June 08, 2017

Cortez Masto, Colleagues Oppose Proposal to Auction Off DOE Transmission Assets

Senators Challenge Short-sighted Plan to Sell Department of Energy’s Power Marketing Administrations  

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and a bipartisan group of Western senators wrote to Energy Secretary Rick Perry to oppose a provision in the President’s FY 2018 Budget that would auction off the transmission assets of the Department of Energy’s Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs). 

The senators write in the letter, “The PMAs – the Southeastern Power Administration, the Southwestern Power Administration, the Western Area Power Administration and the Bonneville Power Administration – market and transmit power generated at federal hydropower dams primarily to rural electric cooperatives and public power utilities serving consumers in 34 states. They have provided reliable and affordable electric service and are crucially important to rural communities in our states.”

The senators note that the “sale of the PMAs transmission facilities would not advance the President’s infrastructure objectives.  In fact, privatization of existing assets could affect opportunities for new infrastructure investments. Moreover, any private entity buying PMA assets will want to recover their investment.  The resulting rate increases would take money out of the pockets of consumers and businesses in our states.”

The letter concludes, “There are improvements that can and should be made to the operations of some PMAs, but the dismantling of them is simply not sound governmental policy.  Instead, we look forward to working with you to make needed investments in PMA infrastructure and ensuring the future value of this important federal asset.”

The letter was led by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and also signed by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The full letter to Secretary Perry can be found here.