Bonneville Power Administration

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is an American federal agency based in the Pacific Northwest. BPA was created by an act of Congress in 1937 to market electric power from the Bonneville Dam located on the Columbia River and to construct facilities necessary to transmit that power. Congress has since designated Bonneville to be the marketing agent for power from all of the federally owned hydroelectric projects in the Pacific Northwest. Bonneville, whose headquarters are located in Portland, Oregon, is one of four regional Federal power marketing agencies within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Although BPA is part of the DOE, it is self-funded and covers its costs by selling its products and services at cost.

Columbia River Treaty Power Group

The Columbia River Treaty is an international agreement between Canada and the United States for the cooperative development and operation of Columbia River Basin water resources to reduce the effect of floods and to increase dependable and usable amounts of hydropower generation. It was signed in 1961 and implemented in 1964. After September 15, 2024, Canada and the United States each have the option to terminate most of the Treaty provisions by providing a 10-year advance written notice.

While the costs and benefits are borne by all Pacific Northwest utility customers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) represent the United States as the U.S. Entity and work in concert with the State Department and National Security Council in official Treaty discussions with Canada. The Corps operates federal dams in the Columbia River Basin and BPA markets federal hydropower to regional utilities. Neither BPA nor the Corps represents the interests of utilities that purchase federal hydropower, operators of non-federal hydropower facilities directly affected by the Treaty, or other river users. The Power Group was formed to ensure that Northwest electricity customers would have their interests represented in the Treaty review process.

The earliest the Treaty can be terminated is 2024, although notice must be given by 2014. The current Treaty flood control operations, which provide significant benefits to the United States, will expire in September 2024. Terms and conditions for ongoing flood control will need to be renegotiated, regardless of whether the Treaty is terminated or not. In addition, U.S. operations of the Columbia River system for fisheries management have significantly reduced the original downstream power benefits of the Treaty. If the Treaty continues without modification post-2024, U.S. power utilities would remain obligated to deliver Canadian Entitlement, a continuous power and energy delivery to the Canadian government paid for by Northwest electricity customers.

Additional Information

BPA Library offers Volume 1 of Vintage BPA films. To receive a copy, contact BPA’s Public Information Center at (503) 230-4636 (toll-free: (800) 622-4250), or by email.

In addition, all six films are available to view and share on BPA’s YouTube Channel.

United States Department of Energy’s Actions Against Bonneville Power Administration: