Cantwell, Colleagues Oppose Proposal To Auction Off DOE Transmission Assets

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

June 7, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) 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).  

In the letter the senators write, “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 by stating, “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 led by Sen. Cantwell was also signed by Sen. Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Sen. Bennet (D-Colo.), Sen. Boozman (R-Ark.), Sen. Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sen. Crapo (R-Idaho), Sen. Daines (R-Mont.), Sen. Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Franken (D-Minn.), Sen. Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sen. Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Sen.  Hoeven (R-N.D.), Sen. Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sen. Merkley (D-Ore.), Sen. Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Risch (R-Idaho), Sen. Rounds (R-S.D.), Sen. Tester (D-Mont.), and Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.).

The full letter to Secretary Perry can be found here.