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Published On: Wed, Apr 26th, 2017

Jeff Flake, John McCain and Angus King introduce Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power, and U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Angus King (I-Maine) introduced the Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act to require the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) to be more transparent about its expenditures and rates.

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WAPA is one of four federal power agencies charged with marketing and transmission of hydropower from federal facilities to wholesale customers serving nearly 40 million people across 15 western states. Its roughly $1 billion annual budget is funded through a combination of appropriations from Congress and revenues collected from its customers.

Over the years, WAPA has amassed large “unobligated balances” from its operating budget by taking in more than it spends. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that these balances exceed the levels necessary to execute the agency’s mission. Additionally, investigations revealing fraudulent spending by WAPA employees have triggered numerous internal audits and news stories.

To ensure transparency and accountability for customers and taxpayers, the bill would require the WAPA administrator to establish a publically available website containing detailed information about customer rates and agency expenditures. The bill would also require that WAPA produce an annual summary of rate and expenditure information, as well as a detailed accounting of its current and projected unobligated balances.

“We need to restore transparency and fiscal responsibility at WAPA and hold those guilty of fraud accountable,” said Flake. “This bill will ensure that WAPA focuses on delivering reliable energy without passing unnecessary costs onto Arizona ratepayers.”

“For years, Arizona consumers have been paying the price for rampant waste, fraud and abuse at WAPA in the form of high energy bills,” said McCain. “Our legislation would provide Arizona customers with full transparency of how their tax dollars are being spent so we can hold this troubled agency accountable and rein in WAPA’s unnecessary and excessive spending.”

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