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Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is dropping its $200 million a year programme underwriting energy conservation plants across the Northwest. The Portland-based federal agency exceeded its conservation goal by 33% last year, according to the Willamette Week. The agency produces power at Columbia River dams and sells it throughout the West. The 1980 Northwest Power Act requires BPA to emphasise conservation and renewables such as wind and solar. Conservation is considered the cheapest "source" of power. "They want to cut out stuff that has the most minuscule upward pressure on rates," says Jim DePeso of the Northwest Conservation Act Coalition. Utilities make money only selling more electricity and so BPA wants to rely increasingly on natural gas, he says.

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