Posts tagged: congress

Bill to repeal TIP’s borrowing authority moves to full House

House Resolution 2915, which proposes to repeal Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program’s $3.25 billion borrowing authority from the U.S. Treasury, passed the House of Representatives Committee of Natural Resources with no amendments Oct. 5 with a 26-17 straight party-line vote.

While the three projects currently approved to use the borrowing authority – TransWest Express (development phase), Electrical District 5 – Palo Verde Hub and the Montana Alberta Tie, Limited – would not be impacted by the bill’s passage, no other projects being considered would receive funding.

“New transmission is urgently needed in the western United States.  And yet, getting lines in the air has been far too slow over the past few decades,” said Lauren Azar, senior advisor to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in a written testimony for a Sept. 22 hearing with the Subcommittee on Water and Power. “Western’s $3.25 billion of permanent, indefinite, borrowing authority is, therefore, a critical tool for addressing two of the major energy challenges we now face in the West — the need for additional transmission infrastructure and integration of renewables onto the grid.”

The bill will now be considered in the full House.

TIP’s borrowing authority constructs or upgrades transmission infrastructure within Western’s 15-state service area that has the reasonable expectation of helping deliver renewable generation to customers and is in the public interest.

Boulder Canyon Project remarketing comment period extended

After receiving feedback from customers and Congress, Western extended the comment period for certain proposals related to the Boulder Canyon Project Post-2017 remarketing effort to Sept. 1. The extension also postponed applying BCP’s Power Marketing Initiative and implementing 30-year contracts until Dec. 31.

“This extension provides additional time for on-going legislative activities, as well as additional opportunity for interested parties, including Native American Tribes, to consult with Western and comment on the proposals,” said Darrick Moe, Western’s Desert Southwest regional manager, at the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Power hearing on S. 201, S. 333, S. 334, S. 419, S. 499, S. 519 and S. 808 May 19.

Western published the Application of the Energy Planning and Management Program Power Marketing Initiative to the Boulder Canyon Project notice in the Federal Register May 24, 2011, announcing the change and scheduling additional forums for feedback.

The FRN proposes Western be responsible for remarketing the firm power from Hoover Dam as an internal administrative process.

“This has the advantage of engaging in far more detailed discussions and negotiations than can be addressed by Congress, but with the drawback of unaccountability to taxpayers and ratepayers, potential lawsuits and re-igniting conflicts between the affected states,” said Congressman Tom McClintock, House Water and Power Subcommittee chairman, at the House Subcommittee on Water and Power Oversight Hearing on “Protecting Federal Hydropower Investments in the West: A Stakeholders Perspective” May 4.

Congress looks to amend Hoover Act

In the meantime, bills under debate in the House and Senate propose amending the Hoover Power Plant Act of 1984 to allocate dam power past 2017.

The bills would allocate power at cost-based rates for the project customers, with five percent set aside for new customers. It also proposes 50-year contracts to match up with the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program, a 50-year non-Federal/Federal partnership designed to balance use of the water resource and compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

The legislation mostly matches Western’s FRN with a few notable exceptions, including: 

  • Different authority for remarketing
  • 50-year contracts
  • Omitting setting aside 30 megawatts for use as reserve if Western needs to balance power across its Desert Southwest projects

If passed, the law would eliminate the need for Western’s action under the FRN.

Get a Congressional perspective of Western

As a Federal agency, Western is responsible for submitting a budget request to Congress (after its budget is reviewed and approved by the Department of Energy and the Office of Business Management).

Western Administrator Tim Meeks joined the administrators of Bonneville, Southeastern and Southwestern power administrations in testifying about the proposed fiscal year 2012 budget before the Subcommittee on Water and Power of the House Natural Resources Committee on March 15. In addition to submitting written testimony (61kb pdf), Meeks briefed the committee members on Western’s accomplishments and responded to questions from the committee. Watch a recording of the hearing.

While Congressional appropriations accounts for only about 10 percent of Western’s overall funding needs, it is an important piece to keeping the lights on throughout the West. These appropriations, coupled with customer funding, revolving funds and power sale receipts ensure Western can fund the operation, maintenance and on-going rehabilitation needed to ensure our Federal transmission system is reliably delivering power to customers throughout the West.