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Calendar No. 46
113th Congress Report
1st Session 113-15
SOUTH UTAH VALLEY ELECTRIC CONVEYANCE ACT
April 22, 2013.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Wyden, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 25]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 25) to direct the Secretary of the
Interior to convey certain Federal features of the electric
distribution system to the South Utah Valley Electric Service
District, and for other purposes, having considered the same,
reports favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that
the bill do pass.
The purpose of S. 25, as ordered reported, is to direct the
Secretary of the Interior to convey certain Federal features of
the electric distribution system to the South Utah Valley
Electric Service District.
BACKGROUND AND NEED
The Strawberry Valley Project in Utah was initiated by the
Bureau of Reclamation in 1906 and currently includes the
Strawberry Dam and Reservoir, diversion dams, canals, several
power plants, and an electric transmission and distribution
system. The Strawberry Valley Project is connected to the
Bonneville Unit of the Central Utah Project and comprises about
45,000 irrigable acres in the area of Spanish Fork, Utah.
The Strawberry Water Users Association operates and
maintains the project and is responsible for generation and
transmission of power on the project. Two of the power plants
were constructed by the water users association and later
transferred to the Bureau of Reclamation. Approximately 1,550
kilowatts of power are developed in three power plants on the
project. All three power plants are operated by the Strawberry
Water Users Association.
In 1986, the association conveyed its interest in the
electric distribution system fixtures, lands, and power poles
to the South Utah Valley Electric Service District. The purpose
of this legislation is to clarify certain issues that were not
sufficiently resolved in connection with the prior transfer.
Senator Hatch introduced S. 25 on January 22, 2013. The
bill is cosponsored by Senator Lee. A similar bill, H.R. 251,
was introduced by Representative Chaffetz on January 15, 2013.
At its business meeting on March 14, 2013, the Committee
ordered S. 25 favorably reported.
In the 112th Congress, the Subcommittee on Water and Power
held a hearing on similar legislation, S. 500, also sponsored
by Senators Hatch and Lee on June 23, 2011 (S. Hrg. 112-129).
The House companion, H.R. 461, was introduced by
Representatives Chaffetz and Bishop on January 26, 2011. H.R.
461 was reported as amended by the House Committee on Natural
Resources on September 23, 2011 (H. Rept. 112-217). H.R. 461,
as amended, passed the House of Representatives on October 24,
2011. The Committee ordered reported S. 500, with an amendment
to conform to H.R. 461 as passed by the House (S. Rept. 112-
111), and H.R. 461, without amendment, at its business meeting
on November 10, 2011 (S. Rept. 112-130).
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in
open business session on March 14, 2013, by a voice vote of a
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 25.
Section 1 identifies the short title of the bill as the
``South Utah Valley Electric Conveyance Act''.
Section 2 defines key terms used in the bill.
Section 3(a) directs the Secretary of the Interior to
convey all right, title, and interest currently owned by the
United States to the District. Subsection (b) requires the
conveyance to comply with all applicable environmental laws,
including the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Subsection (c) excludes the Strawberry
Valley Project power generation system and the Federally-owned
portions of the 46 kilovolt transmission system, except for
uses granted by license in Shared Power Poles described under
section 3(a)(2), from being conveyed to the District.
Section 4 specifies that the land and facilities conveyed
by S. 25 shall no longer be part of a Federal reclamation
project, that the District shall not be entitled to any future
Bureau of Reclamation benefits for the conveyed land and
facilities, and that the United States shall not be liable for
damages related to the land and facilities, including the 1986
transaction between the Strawberry Water Users Association and
the South Utah Valley Electric Service District.
Section 5 requires that if the conveyance under section 3
is not completed within one year of enactment of S. 25, the
Secretary of the Interior shall submit a report to Congress
that describes the status of the conveyance, any obstacles
preventing completion of the conveyance, and specifies an
anticipated new date for completion of the conveyance.
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The following estimate of costs of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
S. 25--South Utah Valley Electric Conveyance Act
S. 25 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to
transfer title to the electric distribution system located in
Spanish Fork, Utah, to the South Utah Valley Electric Service
District. Based on information from the Bureau of Reclamation,
CBO estimates that enacting the legislation would have no
significant net impact on the federal budget. Enacting S. 25
would have an insignificant impact on direct spending;
therefore pay-as-you-go procedures apply. The legislation would
not affect revenues.
The electric distribution system was developed as part of
the Strawberry Valley Project in the 1920s. The Strawberry
Water Users Association, the nonfederal sponsor of the project,
satisfied all federal repayment obligations associated with the
project in 1974. In 1986, the Bureau of Reclamation transferred
financial responsibility for operating and maintaining the
system to the South Utah Valley Electric Service District.
Under current law, the bureau oversees those activities.
Under the legislation, transfer to the district of title to
the electric distribution system would include all federally
owned fixtures and the underlying federal land not shared by
other facilities. In instances where the underlying federal
land is also occupied by other facilities and in the case of
shared power poles, permanent access and licensing privileges
would be granted to the district to perform required
Under S. 25, the Bureau of Reclamation would no longer
oversee the facilities or collect licensing fees from utilities
seeking easements. Based on information from the bureau, CBO
estimates that the loss of those collections would not be
S. 25 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Aurora Swanson.
The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.
REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out S. 25.
The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of
imposing Government-established standards or significant
economic responsibilities on private individuals and
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of S. 25, as ordered reported.
CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING
S. 25, as reported, does not contain any congressionally
directed spending items, limited tax benefits, or limited
tariff benefits as defined in rule XLIV of the Standing Rules
of the Senate.
Executive Communications were not requested by the
Committee in the 113th Congress. The following Administration
testimony references similar legislation introduced in the
The testimony provided by Bureau of Reclamation at the June
23, 2011, Subcommittee on Water and Power hearing on S. 500
Statement of Grayford F. Payne, Deputy Commissioner for Policy,
Administration and Budget, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of the
Madam Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am
Grayford Payne, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Administration
and Budget at the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). I am
pleased to provide the views of the Department of the Interior
(Department) regarding S. 500, legislation authorizing the
transfer of the Federal portion of the Strawberry Valley
Project Electric Distribution System to the South Utah Valley
Electric Service District (District). Reclamation supports the
title transfer contemplated by this bill and recommends
revisions be made to the bill, which I describe below.
The Strawberry Valley Project (Project) is one of
Reclamation's earliest projects, and all Federal obligations
associated with the Project are fully repaid. Reclamation
developed hydropower generation from the beginning because
electricity was required to build the Project. Early in the
Project's history, Reclamation transferred the operation and
maintenance of most of the Project, including the Power System,
to the Strawberry Water Users Association (Association).
The Strawberry Valley Project Power System has three parts:
the powerplants are the Generation System, the high-voltage
lines running from the powerplants to the substations are the
Transmission System, and the low-voltage lines running from the
substations to the customers are the Distribution System.
In 1986, the Association spun off the District--creating an
independent service district with the capability to operate and
maintain the Transmission and Distribution Systems. At the same
time, the Association proposed selling the Distribution System
to the District. Reclamation approved the proposed sale on the
condition that the Association not transfer any Federal
facilities. At the time, Reclamation required that the sale be
limited to those portions of the Distribution System owned by
the Association--those parts that were not completed as part of
the original Strawberry Valley Project; constructed with
Strawberry Valley Project revenues; and constructed on Federal
lands or interests in lands. The District paid approximately
$2.7 million for the non-Federal portions of the Distribution
System. Reclamation approved the sale.
In 1986, Reclamation, the Association, and the District
believed that most of the Distribution System was non-Federal.
Later, it was determined that this was not accurate.
The 1940 Repayment Contract between the United States and
the Association states clearly that all additions to the Power
System are Federal facilities; little or none of the
Distribution System was owned by the Association. The District
is chagrined at having paid the Association for facilities it
did not receive. The purpose of this Act is to convey to the
District what all parties believed the District acquired in
The Act would likely have little effect on operation of the
Strawberry Valley Project. The District would receive fee
interest in those Federal lands on which the Distribution
System is the only Federal feature. On Federal lands sharing
both Distribution System and other Strawberry Valley Project
facilities, the legislation grants the District an easement for
access to perform maintenance on the Distribution System
fixtures. This provision preserves the interest of the United
States and the public in the other Strawberry Valley Project
facilities. As for the rest of the Project, the organizations
would remain responsible for operating and maintaining the
Generation System and the Transmission System on behalf of the
Because the Strawberry Valley Project is a paid-out
Reclamation project, there is no outstanding repayment
obligation associated with it. For this reason, the Act does
not require any payment from the District in exchange for title
to the Distribution facilities. In addition, the Act eliminates
Reclamation's obligations to oversee the maintenance of the
Distribution System and to administer the associated lands. The
result may be a slight reduction in Reclamation expenditures.
The change in ownership under the bill will be relatively
invisible to the public. Because the District has been
operating and maintaining the Distribution System for several
years, the public will witness a change in ownership but should
not experience any change in operation. The Act will eliminate
uncertainty about ownership and obligations associated with the
Distribution System--which will likely lead to more efficient
and effective operation of the Distribution System.
The Department recognizes that there are benefits to be
achieved by the proposed title transfer and has worked closely
and cooperatively with the interested parties. Before the
Department can support S. 500, we recommend two revisions:
First, Section 3(a), directing that ``the Secretary . . . shall
convey and assign'' the facilities to be transferred, should be
changed to ``the Secretary . . . is authorized to convey and
assign'', thereby allowing for completion of the necessary
public input and scoping pursuant to the National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA). And second, language should be added to
state that the District shall hold the United States harmless
for any claim arising from the 1986 sale of the Distribution
System and from actions under this legislation.
In recent days, we have had discussions with the District
about accelerating the NEPA process and making modifications to
the legislation to address the concerns described in this
testimony. As such, I am confident that we can work with the
District, Senator Hatch, Representative Chaffetz, and the
Subcommittee to reach our goal of supporting this legislation
and transferring title to these facilities in a timely manner.
This concludes my written statement. I am pleased to answer
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by S. 25, as ordered reported.