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Abstract

For the past four decades, the Bonneville Power Administration(BPA) has played a singular and powerful role in developing the Northwest regional electric power system, and indirectly in the regional economy that system supports. The federal government's decision during the first half of this century to develop multi-purpose water resource projects led to the construction of many dams, most of them in the Western United States, most built since the mid-1930s, and most including hydroelectric generation. As we enter the 1980s, fundamental changes have occurred. Historically, BPA has had sufficient resources to sell power to any utility or other customer in the region. Until recently, finding markets for the abundant low-cost federal power was a perennial problem. However, the era of abundance has abruptly ended. The entire region now faces substantial electric energy deficits for the foreseeable future.