Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate today passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, bipartisan legislation that includes an amendment sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) that would require the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) to establish a pilot project online database of its budgetary costs and rates. The searchable online database would be broken down by region and customer services office (headquarters) in order to increase transparency and accountability for how WAPA manages its funds.
“While WAPA's purported mission is to provide affordable power to all of its customers, the agency has seen its overhead expenses go through the roof in recent years and has unfairly passed on these unnecessary costs to customers throughout rural Arizona in the form of high monthly energy bills,” said Senator McCain. “Our amendment would increase oversight and transparency of this troubled agency by providing customers with information about WAPA's activities through a new searchable online database. Arizonans deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent, and I’ll continue to urge our colleagues in the House to take up this legislation so we can provide our citizens the transparency they need to rein-in WAPA's unnecessary and excessive spending.”
“Passage of this amendment brings WAPA power customers one step closer to increased rate transparency and puts WAPA on the path to reduce administrative costs previously devoted to compiling and reporting data on a case-by-case basis,” said Senator Flake. “With this proposal, ratepayers and taxpayers benefit from improved government accountability and efficiency.”
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.
The amendment is here.