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115th Congress    }                                    {        Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session      }                                    {       115-282

======================================================================



 
           WESTERN AREA POWER ADMINISTRATION TRANSPARENCY ACT

                                _______
                                

August 29, 2017.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Bishop of Utah, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted 
                             the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2371]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 2371) to require the Administrator of the 
Western Area Power Administration to establish a pilot project 
to provide increased transparency for customers, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon 
without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 2371 is to require the Administrator of 
the Western Area Power Administration to establish a pilot 
project to provide increased transparency for customers.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    H.R. 2371 requires the Administrator of the Western Area 
Power Administration (WAPA) to establish a pilot project to 
increase transparency of WAPA's costs, rates, staffing and 
other financial and operational dealings.
    Under numerous federal statutes, the Bureau of Reclamation 
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers generate hydropower at 
federal dams and reservoirs. Hydropower generated at these 
facilities, particularly in the western United States, is first 
used to provide electricity to operate irrigation pumps 
affiliated with Reclamation projects. Any excess power is then 
primarily sold by the Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) to 
preference customers, which, by federal statute, are non-profit 
rural electric cooperatives, public utility districts, Indian 
tribes, municipalities and some irrigation districts. The power 
is sold at rates designed to repay the federal capital 
investment in federal electricity generation and transmission 
facilities, annual operation and maintenance of such 
facilities, and federal staffing. The rate structures are 
followed pursuant to 20 to 50 year contracts between the 
wholesale customers and the federal government. With a few 
exceptions, the PMA budgets are designed to be financed 100% by 
ratepayers, as all initial appropriations are reimbursed.
    The PMAs--WAPA, Bonneville Power Administration, 
Southwestern Power Administration and Southeastern Power 
Administration--market and deliver (via transmission lines) 
electricity generated at these federal facilities. According to 
WAPA, the agency markets and delivers annually an average of 
10,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity produced at Reclamation 
and Corps dams. WAPA serves about 700 wholesale customers in 
Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, 
Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South 
Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming through a 17,000-mile federal 
transmission system. These wholesale customers, in turn, supply 
50 million retail customers.
    WAPA's roughly $1 billion budget is financed by annual 
customer funding and advance payments and appropriations, which 
are then reimbursed, with interest, through customer 
contractual repayment obligations. As is the case with all 
PMAs, WAPA must market power produced at federal hydroelectric 
facilities at the lowest possible rates consistent with sound 
business principles. Some customers have called for increased 
transparency over WAPA's business practices given rate increase 
trends and discrepancies between budgeted and executed dollar 
amounts. For example, at a May 18, 2017, Water, Power and 
Oceans Subcommittee hearing, Mr. Patrick Ledger, Chief 
Executive Officer at for Arizona Electric Power Cooperative 
testified: ``. . . what is missing from the presentation from 
[WAPA] and conversations with [WAPA] officials on the use of 
budget authority is granularity that would help PMA customers 
understand why rates continue to increase.'' WAPA has taken 
steps to be more transparent in an effort to address some of 
the concerns raised by customers. For example, on March 17, 
2016, WAPA created a website called ``The Source'', which 
displays some of its financial operations and operational data.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 states the short title of the bill as the 
``Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act.''
    Section 2 requires the Administrator of WAPA to establish a 
publicly available website that contains: rates charged to 
customers by power system; the amount of energy or capacity 
sold by power system; a detailed accounting of expenditures, 
capital costs, and staffing at headquarters and each region; 
and capital expenditures expended including the sources of 
capital for each investment. Additionally, this section 
requires the Administrator to make publicly available online an 
annual summary that would include updates to documents listed 
above; the total amount of unobligated balances broken down by 
function and authority; and the anticipated unobligated balance 
levels for the next year.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 2371 was introduced on May 4, 2017, by Congressman 
Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ). The bill was referred to the Committee on 
Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee 
on Water, Power and Oceans. On May 18, 2017, the Subcommittee 
on Water, Power and Oceans held a hearing on the bill. On July 
25, 2017, the Natural Resources Committee met to consider the 
bill. The Subcommittee was discharged by unanimous consent. No 
amendments were offered, and the bill was ordered favorably 
reported to the House of Representatives by unanimous consent 
on July 26, 2017.

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation and the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974. With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) and 
(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives 
and sections 308(a) and 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974, the Committee has received the enclosed cost estimate for 
the bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                   Washington, DC, August 16, 2017.
Hon. Rob Bishop.
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2371, the Western 
Area Power Administration Transparency Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Kathleen 
Gramp.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 2371--Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act

    H.R. 2371 would direct the Western Area Power 
Administration (WAPA) to make more information about its 
financial operations available to the public. WAPA is an agency 
within the Department of Energy that markets electricity 
produced at federally owned dams in several western states. 
WAPA's expenditures are funded by annual appropriations and are 
offset over time by income from the sale of electricity.
    Based on information from WAPA, CBO estimates that 
implementing H.R. 2371 would cost less than $500,000 over the 
2018-2022 period; such spending would be subject to the 
availability of appropriated finds. Implementing this bill 
would primarily involve making existing data accessible in new 
formats. According to WAPA, much of that work is being done 
under current law. Enacting H.R. 2371 would not affect direct 
spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do 
not apply.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2371 would not increase 
net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 2371 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Kathleen Gramp. 
The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to require the Administrator of the 
Western Area Power Administration to establish a pilot project 
to provide increased transparency for customers.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                       COMPLIANCE WITH H. RES. 5

    Directed Rule Making. This bill does not contain any 
directed rule makings.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

                                  [all]