Closed-Door Deal Threatens Energy Affordability and Reliability

February 01, 2024

We know our members want certainty that the electricity we provide is clean, affordable, and reliable. Over the years, we’ve maintained this certainty because of our longstanding relationship with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), which markets the output from federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. However, current developments in the litigation pertaining to the hydropower system have created more uncertainty than ever before.

Plaintiffs—including the State of Oregon—have, for years, used the courtroom to increase BPA’s spending for fish and wildlife programs, despite the fact BPA ratepayers spend $685 million annually on these programs. In fact, approximately one-quarter of our wholesale electric power costs fund fish and wildlife protection programs.

Late last year we learned of a secret agreement between the plaintiffs and the federal government which could burden BPA customers with billions of dollars in new costs. One estimate predicts the electricity we purchase from BPA could increase by 50%. Unfortunately, this agreement was made without input from organizations that represent Salem Electric and other Northwest public power customers. This agreement also lacks certainty against further litigation that could skyrocket costs even more. 

Salem Electric will continue to advocate in support of the Columbia and Snake River Hydro System and for cost-effective, science-based programs to protect fish and wildlife. However, we can’t do it alone. We need your help! 

Visit to advocate for transparency and encourage elected officials to stand up for our communities that depend on federal hydropower. Because if they don’t—the only thing certain is that the electricity we provide will be less affordable and less reliable.


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