Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate has adopted an amendment filed by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill to address the concerns of Arizona power customers about the Western Area Power Administration’s (WAPA) federal overreach. Specifically, the amendment would require WAPA to report on reasons why current and past contracts with power customers have not included contract termination provisions.
“Any long-term contract giving Arizona power customers no way out leaves them vulnerable to WAPA passing through increased costs as a result of the agency’s unnecessary and excessive spending,” said Senator McCain. “This amendment advances critical oversight and transparency of WAPA’s activities, which have overstepped their bounds at Arizonans’ expense in recent years.”
“Oversight of WAPA is critical to ensuring fair treatment of its customers,” said Senator Flake. “That includes understanding why some of its contracts, particularly those that could lock in 50-year commitments, lack the flexibility found in similar contracts previously used by WAPA and other power administrations.”
Senators McCain and Flake have been working to address Arizona customers’ concerns by reining-in WAPA’s overreach. In April the Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, which included an amendment sponsored by the senators that would require WAPA to establish a pilot project online database of its budgetary costs and rates.
On October 22, 2015, WAPA customers including Irrigation and Electrical Districts Association of Arizona, the Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association, and the Arizona Municipal Power Users Association sent a letter to Senators Flake and McCain expressing their concerns that WAPA has sought to expand the scope of its mission, increased its overhead, and unfairly attempted to pass on costs to its customers.
In response, Senators Flake and McCain sent a letter to Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall urging the agency to examine the concerns raised about WAPA’s questionable practices, including the lack of oversight of WAPA’s activities and costs.