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NW Fishletter #392, April 1, 2019
 Council Releases Annual Fish And Wildlife Costs Report
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council has released its draft annual report on Fish and Wildlife Program costs, which is open to public comment until April 15.
The Council has provided the annual report on the fish and wildlife costs incurred by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) since 2001, in response to a request from the governors of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
Information in the report is supplied by Bonneville and covers fiscal year 2018, from Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018.
This year's report includes a section about the 2018 spill surcharge and allocation of overhead costs. It notes that Bonneville's surplus power sales were lower than usual as a result of court-ordered spill to help juvenile salmon migrate past eight dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers. To make up for lost revenue, BPA charged the fish and wildlife budget $20 million, the report says.
Total costs of $480.9 million include $258.7 million in direct expenses for projects ranging from habitat restoration to research and some fish hatchery costs. That's $30.5 million more than 2017 total costs of $450.4 million, and $4 million more in direct expenses compared to 2017's $254.7 million.
However, 2017 was an unusual year, as BPA's power purchases were calculated at negative $20.5 million. That's because operating the dams for fish actually pushed some generation into months with higher power prices, resulting in the value of gained generation to more than offset the value of lost generation.
Overall, the 2018 costs were similar to those in 2016, which represented a significant drop from the previous two years, when total costs totaled more than $750 million.
The 2018 costs include $2.9 million in forgone hydropower sales revenue resulting from dam operations that benefited fish but reduced hydropower generation.
They also include $24.3 million in power purchases, incurred when Bonneville bought power during dam operations that were curtailed due to fish-related operations, including spilling water in the spring or storing it in the winter to help spring flows.
The total also includes $89.9 million to reimburse the Treasury for costs by other agencies for fish passage, fish production, and hatchery maintenance and operations; and $105.1 million for debt service of capital investments.
Including 2018, the Fish and Wildlife Program has cost a total of $16.8 billion since 1981, the report said. -K.C. Mehaffey
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