U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on two bills to increase federal transparency, safeguard private and state water rights, and provide certainty to water and power users. One of the bills examined was Congressman Gosar’s Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act, H.R.2371, which requires the administrator of the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) to establish a pilot project to increase transparency of the agency’s costs and rates:
“For far too long, the Western Area Power Administration has demonstrated an utter lack of transparency and accountability with regards to costs, rates and expenditures – that ends now,” stated Congressman Gosar. “No longer will this unbridled agency continue to rack up millions of dollars in wasteful expenses leaving ratepayers and customers to foot the bill without so much as a receipt. That dog just don’t hunt. I am proud to team up with Ranking Member Huffman, Congresswoman Sinema, Senators Flake and McCain as well as countless other stakeholders and colleagues in the West to inject much-needed transparency into the agency. Even WAPA supports the bill. Let’s give the customers what they want – good customer service.”
Patrick Ledger, CEO of the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, testified at the hearing in support of H.R. 2371 saying:
“WAPA’s rates are developed through a process that does not invite in-depth review of the actual rate components. With better information broken down in key components – and with a historical perspective – customers can have a better dialogue with [WAPA],” said Ledger. “The promise to be transparent is not fully met simply by having a meeting.”
An archived broadcast of the hearing can be found HERE.
During the question and answer period of the hearing, Acting Chief Financial Officer Dennis Sullivan confirmed that WAPA supports H.R. 2371.
The Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act, H.R. 2371, can be found HERE.
H.R.2371 Sponsors and Cosponsors: Paul Gosar*, Kyrsten Sinema*, Andy Biggs, Trent Franks, Jared Huffman, Doug LaMalfa, Martha McSally, Kristi Noem, Tom O’Halleran and David Schweikert.
Senators Flake, McCain and King have introduced companion legislation in the form of S.930.
WAPA is one of four Power Marketing Administrations that delivers hydropower and related services from federal facilities to nearly 700 preference customers that include federal and state agencies, cities, electric cooperatives, tribes, as well as public utility and irrigation districts. Specifically, WAPA markets power from 56 hydropower plants to more than 40,000,000 people in 15 states.
A 2015 GAO study found that WAPA’s unobligated balances exceed the levels it needs to execute its mission. Additionally, questionable and potentially fraudulent spending by WAPA triggered numerous audits by the agency’s Inspector General and made several recent news stories.
In response to calls for increased transparency, WAPA created an online repository with financial information. While this is a step in the right direction, power customers and Members of Congress have been calling for a more detailed understanding of how WAPA is spending its money. The establishment of this pilot program answers that call and could result in significant savings.
Requires the WAPA Administrator to establish a publically available website containing:
- Rates charged to customers by power system
- Amount of energy or capacity sold by power system
- For headquarters and by region, a detailed accounting of expenditures, capital costs, and staffing
- Capital expenditures expended including the sources of capital for each investment