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NORTHWEST POWER PLANNING COUNCIL CLEARS WAY FOR QUICK ACTION ON NEW POWER PLANTS

 SPOKANE, Wash., Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- A decision by the Northwest Power Planning Council Thursday could cut years off the development time of eight new power plants proposed for the Northwest, the council said.
 Wednesday, the council authorized the Bonneville Power Administration to help pay for environmental studies, permits and other requirements for the plants -- everything except beginning construction. Five of the plants would be cogeneration projects, in which electricity is produced in conjunction with an industrial process. Three others would be gas-fired turbines.
 Bonneville, which transmits and sells electricity generated at federal dams in the Columbia River Basin, would not own the plants, which would be powered by natural gas, but would buy their electricity and sell it around the region. Together, the plants would produce about 800 megawatts, enough for 480,000 average homes.
 By completing the preliminary work now, before the power is needed, Bonneville and the developers will shave several years off the development time of each plant and be ready to build them rapidly when they are needed.
 "A key theme of the council's 1991 Northwest Conservation and Electric Power Plan is that this is the time for action," said Council Chair Stan Grace of Montana. "We hope to meet most of our region's demand for new electricity through efficiency improvements -- conservation -- but if the demand for power grows very rapidly, we will need these new resources quickly. It's wise to lay the groundwork for them now."
 That message was all the more clear Wednesday in light of a report by council staff members on the outlook of hydropower generation in 1993. The report showed that despite above-average snowfall in some parts of the Columbia River Basin and recent warm temperatures, water storage reservoirs currently hold only about half the amount of water they should hold at this time of the year. Reservoirs currently are about 31 percent full, and they should be about 66 percent full.
 Lights won't go out, but the cost of keeping the lights on will increase as deficiencies are made up with expensive power purchased from outside the Northwest.
 "It's time for our region to wake up and realize that we have to site some new generating plants," said Eastern Washington Council Tom Trulove. "We don't want to be forced to curtail industry and jobs in order to keep the lights on at home. The best way to avoid such choices is to aggressively implement the conservation and generation elements of the Northwest Power Plan."
 The council is an agency of the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon, and is charged by the Northwest Power Act of 1980 with developing a long-range electric power plan for the region, and a program to protect, mitigate, and enhance fish and wildlife of the Columbia River Basin.
 -0- 2/11/93
 /CONTACT: Carol Raczykowski, in Cheney, Wash., 509-359-7352, or Linda Gist, in Portland, Ore., 800-222-3355, both of Northwest Power Planning Council/


CO: Northwest Power Planning Council; Bonneville Power Administration ST: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana IN: UTI SU:

SW-LM -- SE009 -- 5969 02/11/93 20:06 EST
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Date:Feb 11, 1993
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