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A Guide to the Bonneville Power Administration

A Guide to the Bonneville Power AdministrationWhat is the Bonneville Power Administration?

The Bonneville Power Administration is a Federal agency that operates within the United States of America that is responsible for marketing electric power from the Bonneville Dam and constructing facilities necessary to transmit such power streams. The Bonneville Power Administration, which is headquartered in Portland, Oregon (the Bonneville Dam is located on the Columbus River), was created through an act of Congress in 1937.

Since the creation of the Bonneville Power Administration, the United States Congress has since designated Bonneville to be the primary marketing agent for power from all Federally-owned hydroelectric projects throughout the Pacific Northwest. As a result of this responsibility, the Bonneville Power Administration is one of four regional Federal power marketing agencies operating within the United States Department of Energy.

Although the Bonneville Power Administration is formally under the Department of Energy, the Administration is self-funding—The Bonneville Power Administration funds and covers its costs by selling its products and services at a premium.

Role of the Bonneville Power Administration:

The Bonneville Power Administration transmits and subsequently sells wholesale electricity in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Western Montana. As of 2010, the Bonneville Power Administration provided roughly 37% of all electricity used in the region.

The Bonneville Power Administration markets the electricity from thirty-one federal hydroelectric dams located on the Columbia River and through its various tributaries. The Bonneville Power Administration possesses more than 15,000 miles of electrical liens and over 300 substations located throughout the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, the Bonneville Power Administration controls roughly 75 percent of high-voltage transmission capacity in the region, as well as maintains connection lines with other power grids located throughout Canada.

The Bonneville Power Administration is connected to the California high-voltage transmission system through path 66, which consists of two 500 kV AC lines of the Pacific AC Inertie and a third 500 kV AC line of the California-Oregon Transmission Project. Combined, these three liens are operated as the California-Oregon Intertie.

The power generated on the Bonneville Power Administration’s grid is sold to various public utilities, private utilities and industries located on the grid. The excess energy is then sold to other grids located throughout Canada, California and other regions in the Pacific Northwest. As a result of its public status, the Bonneville Power Administration does not accrue profits from the sale of power or from providing transmission services.

In addition to these responsibilities and functions, the Bonneville Power Administration also coordinates with the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Bureau of Reclamation to control the flow of water in the Columbia River. Through this role, the Bonneville Power Administration also carries out environmental projects to preserve the river.