WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04), Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus and the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, released the following statement after H.R. 2371, Western Area Transparency Act, passed the House of Representatives last night.
“For far too long, the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) has demonstrated an outright lack of transparency and accountability with regards to costs, rates and expenditures,” said Congressman Gosar. “I am proud to announce that with the bipartisan passage of my bill, the Western Area Power Authority Transparency Act, this unbridled agency’s days of bureaucratic secrecy are over. From this day forward, WAPA will no longer be allowed to rack up millions of dollars in wasteful expenses with the expectation that the American people will foot the bill.”
“The Arizona preference customers applaud passage of H.R. 2371,” said CEO of Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative John Wallace. “This is an important first of many steps towards implementing transparency and accountability at WAPA in a manner that will help Arizonans a better understand WAPA’s questionable budgeting practices and rate formulation.”
“After significant rate increases over the past five years, we seek appropriate legislative oversight to ensure WAPA expenditures are justified and ensure that our Cooperative ratepayers are truly receiving the lowest possible electricity rates available on the market,” said CEO of Arizona Electric Power Cooperative Patrick Ledger. “To that end, we are excited this bipartisan measure has advanced and are grateful to Congressman Gosar for his leadership.”
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. In total, 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 repeated requests 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 the reporting system required by this legislation answers that call and could result in significant taxpayer savings.
Specifically, H.R.2371 requires the WAPA Administrator to establish a publicly 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
Sponsors and Cosponsors of H.R.2371 include: Paul Gosar*, Kyrsten Sinema*, Andy Biggs, Trent Franks, Jared Huffman, Doug LaMalfa, Martha McSally, Kristi Noem, Tom O’Halleran, David Schweikert and Tom McClintock.