BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 28, 2021
CONTACT: Doug Johnson, 503-713-7658, or Maryam Habibi, 971-226-6073
BPA lowers average power rates for fiscal years 2022-2023
BPA sets rates for power and transmission and makes changes to its tariff
that will enable a future decision on potentially joining an energy imbalance market
Portland, Oregon – The Bonneville Power Administration will decrease power rates by an average of 2.5% and slashed its proposed transmission rate increase in half to an average of 6.1%. The new rates were announced as BPA released the final record of decision for its BP-22 power and transmission rate case as well as the TC-22 tariff proceeding.
The TC-22 tariff proceeding adopted new language in BPA’s open access transmission tariff that will enable the power marketer to participate in the Western Energy Imbalance Market if BPA chooses to do so. The decision of whether to join the Western EIM is a separate process outside of the TC-22 proceeding and is anticipated to be made by the end of the fiscal year.
Under the settlement adopted by the BP-22 Record of Decision, the firm power tier 1 rates will decrease by 2.5% for fiscal years 2022 and 2023. Looking back over the previous decade, BP-22 will cap a 10-year period during which BPA’s power rate trajectory increased by less than 2 percent annually, which is in line with historical inflation rates.
“Rates that have matched inflation – not just in a single rate case, but over a sustained period – is proof of BPA’s commitment to bending the cost curve and driving down rate pressures on our power rates,” said BPA Administrator John Hairston. “Today’s announcement demonstrates we are financially strong, competitive and responsive to our customers’ needs.”
With Transmission, the settlement provided for a 6.1% average effective rate increase across the rate period – a number roughly half of what was proposed in the BP-22 Initial Proposal.
“We’ve landed in a spot where BPA will be able to continue to keep its transmission commitments and re-invest in the value of BPA’s transmission infrastructure in a fiscally sound and responsible manner,” Hairston said.
Beyond rates, the BP-22 Record of Decision also establishes revenue financing for up to $40 million for both the Power and Transmission business lines. This financing will allow BPA to issue less debt and decrease upward rate pressures in subsequent rate cases. The ROD also established the implementation of the Short-Distance Discount in the point-to-point Transmission rate and addressed the equitable treatment of fish and wildlife costs.
As part of the settlement, BPA has committed to holding workshops on various topics of interest to customers, including revenue financing, EIM costs and benefits, balancing services, the Eastern Intertie, and transmission losses.
TC-22 changes to tariff enable potential EIM participation
The TC-22 tariff proceeding updated language in BPA’s tariff, including addressing the terms and conditions that will apply to transmission service if BPA decides to participate in the Western Energy Imbalance Market. The adoption of this language enables the potential participation of BPA in the Western EIM without committing BPA to that path.
The TC-22 proceeding also addressed Southern Intertie studies, transmission planning process, real power loss return, the removal of an exception for designation of Seller’s Choice agreements, ministerial edits to service agreement templates, generator interconnection procedures and requirements, and credit standards.
“We appreciate the work customers and stakeholders did with us during the tariff case,” said Hairston. “Confronting and solving these issues demonstrates that BPA, its customers and the region benefit from a tariff designed by the Northwest for the Northwest.”
The changes captured by the final RODs for BP-22 and TC-22 will be effective October 1. Specific to rates, BPA will file the case with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, requesting interim approval to start on that date while awaiting final FERC approval.
BPA initiated both the BP-22 power and transmission rate case and the TC-22 proceeding in December 2020. The final RODs as well as Information on meetings and publications are available on the BP-22 rate case website and the TC-22 proceeding website.
The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is a nonprofit federal power marketer that sells wholesale, carbon-free hydropower from 31 federal dams in the Columbia River Basin. It also markets the output of the region’s only nuclear plant. BPA delivers this power to more than 140 Northwest electric utilities, serving millions of consumers and businesses in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. BPA also owns and operates more than 15,000 circuit miles of high-voltage power lines and 261 substations, and provides transmission service to more than 300 customers. In all, BPA provides nearly a third of the power generated in the Northwest. To mitigate the impacts of the federal dams, BPA implements a fish and wildlife program that includes working with its partners to make the federal dams safer for fish passage. It also pursues cost-effective energy savings and operational solutions that help maintain safe, affordable, reliable electric power for the Northwest. www.bpa.gov
MEXICAN CITIZEN SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR
PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
Spokane – Joseph H. Harrington, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced Juan Carlos Sandoval-Guerrero, age 21, a citizen of Mexico, was sentenced today, after pleading guilty to production and attempted production of child pornography, on April 1, 2021. United States District Judge Salvador Mendoza, Jr. sentenced Sandoval-Guerrero to a 15-year term of imprisonment, to be followed by a lifetime term of court supervision after he is released from federal prison. Sandoval-Guerrero was also ordered to pay $53,040.00 in restitution to his victims.
According to information disclosed during court proceedings, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) began investigating Sandoval-Guerrero after law enforcement received a complaint from a concerned local mother. The mother expressed concern regarding interactions her nine-and eleven-year-old sons were having with a person she believed to be an adult over Xbox.
Through further investigation, HSI determined that Sandoval-Guerrero had been using Xbox to encourage the boys to engage in sexually-explicit activities, to video and photograph those activities, and send the images to him. Sandoval-Guerrero also communicated with the eleven-year-old boy via an application called TextNow.
On February 6, 2020, HSI executed a warrant to search Sandoval-Guerrero’s Grandview, Washington, residence, and seized numerous electronic devices that contained images of child pornography involving the boys. Officers transported Sandoval-Guerrero to the Grandview Police Department where he was interviewed. Sandoval-Guerrero admitted contacting the boys through the video game “Fortnite.” Sandoval-Guerrero also admitted that he requested and directed the boys to produce sexually-explicit images and videos.
At sentencing Judge Mendoza said “This is a very serious offense. The effects of the offense are not limited to those instances, those moments with the children. The brain of a 9, 11-year old is just developing. It has severe life-long impacts – what happens to them at that age. Impacts that you caused. You did it.”
Acting United States Attorney Harrington said, “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington, in collaboration with its federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners, uses every resource and tool available to investigate and prosecute aggressively those involved in child exploitation. This Office will continue to do all we can to protect vulnerable child victims of these horrible crimes.”
This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) has five major components:
· Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases, and to identify and rescue children;
· Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;
· Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;
. Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and
· Community awareness and educational programs.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, and the Southeast Regional ICAC. This case was prosecuted by Alison Gregoire and Brian Donovan, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.
Middle Market optimism surges +24 points over pre-pandemic levels: more than 70% of companies embrace continued adaptation with “significant” changes to strategy and operations anticipated
Roughly 50% plan to invest in real estate, acquisitions or other expansion in year ahead
PORTLAND, Ore., July 29, 2021 – Umpqua Bank, a subsidiary of Umpqua Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: UMPQ), today released its annual 2021 Business Barometer, an in-depth study into the mood, mindset, and strategic priorities of nearly 1,200 leaders at small and middle market companies across the United States. Despite the heavy toll businesses nationwide faced last year, optimism has now surged past pre-pandemic levels, and many companies report being well positioned for growth in the year ahead.
In addition to reporting transformational shifts in operations and strategy over the last year, middle market companies, in particular, are embracing the expectation of continued challenges and the need for ongoing adaptation. And while growth is expected among both small and middle market companies, intense disruptions related to supply chains and competition for workplace talent pose considerable challenges.
“Businesses of all sizes made significant changes over the past year in response to the pandemic. As a result of increased efficiencies and diversification, many have emerged more optimistic and poised for growth as the economic recovery continues,” said Richard Cabrera, EVP and Head of Middle Market Banking at Umpqua Bank. “Leaders have realized their organizations’ capacity to pivot and adapt, and the pandemic has challenged them to think more strategically and in greater detail about their larger purpose and value to the marketplace. This bodes well for the immediate future and will also make them better prepared to adapt to the next disruption.”
Together, small and middle market companies serve as bellwethers for the economy. Middle market businesses alone account for $6 trillion of the U.S. private-sector GDP and provide 44 million jobs. The strength and resiliency of these businesses are critical to economic well being and recovery.
Key findings and highlights from Umpqua Bank’s fourth annual survey include:
“Significant Changes” Made in 2020 Represent Transformational Shifts
Not surprisingly, most businesses have made major strategic adjustments in response to the pandemic. Nearly all middle market companies (96%) and most small businesses (65%) say they’ve made “significant changes” to multiple areas, including supply chains, staffing models, company culture and vision, brick-and-mortar operations, and products and services. These changes, however, reflect more than temporary pivots to survive. According to the report, about half of those surveyed, including 71% of middle market companies, expect to keep most or all of the changes made.
Surging Optimism Paves Way for Growth
Positivity around the current state of the economy has roughly doubled since last year, with expectations for overall economic improvement and business growth accelerating past levels recorded in previous Umpqua middle market research. A majority of middle market (55%) and small (52%) businesses expect economic conditions to improve and for revenue to increase (62% of middle market and 53% of small businesses).
A renewed sense of optimism, and most likely delayed plans from 2020, have middle market companies thinking about growth and expansion in the year ahead. More than half (52%) are considering acquiring another business, up from roughly one-third reporting such interest in 2019 and 2020. Another 56% expect to finance expansion plans.
The state of the commercial real estate sector may also be less dire than commonly assumed, as 47% of middle market companies are looking to expand their real estate footprint. That figure is most pronounced within the manufacturing, and finance and insurance industries.
Leaders Embrace a Mindset of Continuous Change & Evolution
Despite reporting massive strategic shifts in response to the pandemic a year ago, more changes are coming in a competitive, dynamic post-pandemic economy. Roughly three-quarters or more of middle market businesses expect to continue making significant changes to products and services (75%). They also anticipate substantial changes to their pricing models (75%); another 81% are likely to digitize new areas of their business to become more efficient, while 79% will continue automating repetitive manual tasks.
“Over the past several years, disruptions—whether macro-economic, geopolitical, or technological—have become a constant reality, and none has been more impactful than the pandemic,” said Cabrera. “The data mirrors what we see on the ground with our customers—businesses are starting to accept this reality. While the last year has been difficult, many businesses have tapped into strategic and creative energy that’s changing their mindset from one of resistance to embracing the need for continual change.”
Despite accelerating optimism and plans for growth, businesses face economic headwinds that will continue to challenge their capabilities and need for strategic support from various partners. These include:
Talent Dislocation and Lack of Skilled Workers
Most middle market businesses (55%) and 41% of small businesses are having trouble finding qualified employees. Companies cite the inability to engage qualified talent and a shortage of skilled candidates as the top staffing challenges; respondents from construction, retail and manufacturing businesses are most likely to have trouble finding qualified employees.
While businesses are offering enhanced incentives, including finding creative ways to support working parents (71% of middle market companies), operating short-handed has a ripple effect across their bottom line and the economy. Higher labor costs, increased delays with goods and costly workforce inefficiencies are cited as the most significant impacts. The inability to pursue new opportunities also ranks exceptionally high for small businesses.
Supply Chain Disruptions
As companies are working to adapt and grow to meet increasing consumer demand for goods, many are still feeling the effects of the pandemic on the global supply chain, with 88% of businesses citing difficulty sourcing goods in the past 12 months. The most common supply chain difficulties companies have faced include:
To read the survey in full, visit www.umpquabank.com/business-barometer-survey-report.
The Umpqua Bank 2021 Business Baramoter, conducted annually, surveyed 1,196 owners, executives, and financial decision-makers from U.S. small and middle market companies. The online survey was conducted in partnership with DHM Research, a public policy and business research firm, and targeted leaders at companies with $500,000 to $500 million in annual revenue. The survey has a 2.8% margin of error and was fielded from May 24 – June 4, 2021.
About Umpqua Bank
Umpqua Bank, headquartered in Roseburg, Ore., is a subsidiary of Umpqua Holdings Corporation, and has locations across Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada. Umpqua Bank has been recognized for its innovative customer experience and banking strategy by national publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Fast Company and CNBC. The company has been recognized for eight years in a row on FORTUNE magazine's list of the country's "100 Best Companies to Work For," and was recently named by The Portland Business Journal the Most Admired Financial Services Company in Oregon for the sixteenth consecutive year. In addition to its retail banking presence, Umpqua Bank also owns Financial Pacific Leasing, Inc., a nationally recognized commercial finance company that provides equipment leases to businesses.