The Bonneville Power Administration plans to reduce program spending by at least $250 million to help soften the blow of an anticipated rate increase scheduled to take effect Oct. 1.

Randall Hardy, Bonneville's administrator, late last month previewed the cuts, which will affect spending in fiscal 1993 and the up-coming budget biennium that begins Oct. 1.

Local utilities have pressured Bonneville to explore spending cuts before deciding on the magnitude of a rate increase. Hardy said the cuts probably will enable Bonneville to hold the rate increase to less than 20%.

Bonneville, a federal agency that markets power throughout the Pacific Northwest, has said it expects to end fiscal 1993 with a $482 million net loss.

The agency faces financial pressures for various reasons, including a drought that has reduced hydroelectric power production and forced Bonneville to increase purchases of other, more expensive power.

Hardy said Bonneville can reduce spending partly by deferring construction of some transmission projects.

The agency also plans to seek across-the-board spending cuts in other areas, along with more cost-effective ways to conduct operations.

Hardy's draft decision on the pending rate case is expected to be released later this month.

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