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01/08/2021 Portland Update

The first full week of 2021 has seen NRU staff with heads down working on the BPA rate case and preparing for the many meetings and presentations on our calendar in the next 30 or so days. We have a significant number of new readers to this update and I want to make sure key dates and opportunities for interaction with your trade association are marked on members’ calendars.


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Post-2028 Working Group Meetings

As we reported in the Update last week, BPA is planning to begin conversations with customers on Post-2028 contract provisions as early as March. Our Post-2028 Working Group has been meeting regularly for over a year and will be meeting twice in January as a push towards having recommendations for the full NRU Board at the February quarterly meeting. The Working Group will be meeting on both January 13th and January 26th.

We sincerely appreciate the tremendous commitment of time and talent by those who volunteered to serve on the Working Group. They have worked diligently over the last 14 months and have a long road ahead of them!


Rate Case Deep Dive Webinar

Staff has been burning the midnight oil to analyze the thousands of pages of testimony and data that make up the BP-22 rate case materials from BPA. NRU’s direct testimony on the rate case must be filed on the same day as our February NRU Board meeting and we will need input from our members to prepare our case so we will be conducting a webinar to explain priority issue areas, answer questions from members and gather feedback to formulate NRU’s positions.

An exact date for the webinar has not been identified yet but we are targeting the last third of the month. Once the exact date and time is set, we will send out notice in the update and under separate cover to ensure everyone knows when the webinar is scheduled. If you are unable to listen in to the webinar, please remember any member utility can call us to discuss the rate case on a one-on-one basis.


NRU/NIU Quarterly Meetings

With the holidays behind us our first quarterly meetings of 2021 are less than a month away!

The NIU meeting is scheduled for February 3rd at 7:30 am and will have time on the agenda dedicated to a review of the IRMP level in the BP-22 rate case, a look at how the IRMP was modeled in the General Resource Investigation and time to discuss 2021 NIU goals. The meeting will be once again held virtually.

The NRU meeting is also scheduled for February 3rd and will start at 9:00 am with adjournment planned for noon. The agenda is still in the early draft stages but expect significant time to be committed to discussing and approving the General Resource Investigation, engagement with BPA on Post-2028 and the BP-22 rate case. The NRU meeting will also be held virtually.


NRU Staff Profile #4 – Blake Weathers, Resource and Planning Director

Blake is the second longest tenured staff member at NRU and offers a wealth of experience and knowledge to the NRU membership.

Blake brings twenty years of experience working on transmission and power supply issues in the northwest. Areas of expertise include: developing strategic resource plans, non-federal resource investigations, resource procurement, transmission acquisition, and BPA policy and procedures.

Please do not hesitate to contact Blake with any questions via his email to bweathers@nru-nw.com or by phone at (503) 261-3078.

BPA-Transmission Services Rolls Out New NT Business Practice

Last week, BPA issued a revised Network Integration Transmission Service Business Practice (“NT BP”) for customer review and feedback. The primary point of the revisions was to incorporate the rules and procedures for load and resource forecasting. BPA also included additions and changes regarding the use of secondary NT service (i.e., NT non-firm) and designated Network Resources. The NT BP codifies the procedures for arranging transmission service as an NT customer. All NRU members are NT customers of BPA, and NT BP revisions happen on a fairly infrequent basis, so this is a pretty big deal in terms of ensuring that the “rules of the road” that NT customers must adhere to are effective, fair, and easy to implement. The good news is that for most NRU members, the NT BP is a fairly “behind the scenes” document that really only comes up when things go wrong!

After our initial review, BPA’s proposed revisions have a long way to go in order to be ready for implementation. Typically, when we submit comments on proposed business practice changes, we focus on the most substantive elements, but we are going to have to first submit comments to simply clean up the basic language and general flow of their proposal. Once that is complete, we will provide an update in future Portland Updates. on the most critical, substantive modifications and request your feedback at that time.


Columbia Basin Collaborative (Formerly the Four State Process)

NRU continues to track the Columbia Basin Collaborative as much as possible; the name was changed from the Four State Process to be more inclusive of Tribal and other stakeholders and to associate more closely with the focus of the effort.

Kurt Miller, Executive Director of NW RiverPartners, has been beating on every door possible in an effort to get a seat at what promises to be a very crowded table. Kurt has made strong inroads with the Idaho Governor’s office and is told RiverPartners will be on their list of parties to be considered key stakeholders. RiverPartners’ broad membership base makes Kurt a good choice and if he is successful, NRU will be engaged in the process by virtue of our close partnership with RiverPartners and our current position on the Board of Directors of RiverPartners. As alluded to earlier, many parties are interested in having a direct participatory role in this process and RiverPartners is not guaranteed a place.

In other efforts to secure a primary role in the process, several utilities sent a letter to the Governors of Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington requesting that the governors include representation from electric utility ratepayers as direct participants in the collaborative forum. The letter forwarded Debra Smith for consideration with Joe Lukas as an alternative to Debra. A copy of that letter is attached to for your convenience.

Even as we work to play an active role, it is not yet clear how the Collaborative effort will unfold or whether it will be a meaningful venue to address the many fish and wildlife issues facing the region.

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