Letter to Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy - Memorandum for Power Marketing Administrators

Letter

By:  Tom Latham Jack Kingston Hank Johnson, Jr. Denny Rehberg Jason Chaffetz Sanford Bishop, Jr. Amy Klobuchar Thad Cochran G.K. Butterfield, Jr. Cynthia Lummis Lamar Alexander Dan Lungren Saxby Chambliss Dennis Cardoza Chuck Fleischmann Cathy McMorris Rodgers Doris Matsui Lindsey Graham Collin Peterson Larry Kissell Jim Matheson Maria Cantwell Jeff Flake Lisa Murkowski Lynn Westmoreland Adrian Smith Diane Black Alcee Hastings, Sr. Mo Brooks Ed Pastor John McCain III Jeff Sessions III David Price Bennie Thompson Rick Berg Peter DeFazio Dan Boren Claire McCaskill Mark Amodei Mike Rogers Jeff Fortenberry Dean Heller Jon Tester Renee Ellmers Roger Wicker Danny Davis Mike Crapo Jerry McNerney Jim McDermott Scott Tipton Spencer Bachus Barbara Lee Jim Clyburn Wally Herger, Jr. James Lankford Donna Christensen Kristi Noem Tim Scott James Risch Frank Lucas Steve Stivers Paul Gosar Mark Udall Paul Broun Pete Stark Terri Sewell Bobby Rush Joe Wilson, Sr. Ben Quayle David Schweikert Jeff Duncan John Barrow John Duncan, Jr. Jeff Merkley Jon Kyl Steven Palazzo Tim Walz John Hoeven Karen Bass Mark Pryor Peter Welch Rob Bishop Greg Walden Patrick McHenry Tim Johnson Lois Capps Jo Ann Emerson Robert Hurt Steve Pearce Mike Johanns Brett Guthrie Steve Southerland Jerry Moran Jim Webb, Jr. Adam Smith John Thune Kurt Schrader Thomas Holden Jeff Denham Jim Costa Rick Crawford Orrin Hatch Bob Goodlatte Jeff Miller John Barrasso John Boozman Ron Paul Steve King Howard Coble Michael Coffman Anna Eshoo Phil Roe Tim Griffin Richard Hanna Trey Gowdy III Doc Hastings Michele Bachmann Alan Nunnelee Mike Thompson Morgan Griffith Doug Lamborn Rick Larsen Ron Wyden Stephen Fincher Mike Honda Cory Gardner Mike McIntyre Marsha Blackburn Blaine Luetkemeyer Jo Bonner, Jr. Todd Akin Norm Dicks Kent Conrad Trent Franks Patty Murray Ben Chandler III Sam Graves Walter Jones, Jr. Lee Terry Gregg Harper Ed Towns Mike Simpson Mike Lee Billy Long Bill Nelson, Sr. Mike Doyle Joe Heck, Jr. Raúl Labrador Tom McClintock Johnny Isakson Ed Whitfield John Sullivan Robert Aderholt Timothy Johnson Cedric Richmond Emanuel Cleaver II Pat Roberts Chuck Grassley Hal Rogers Tom Harkin Roy Blunt Mark Begich Steve Womack John Kline Mike Enzi Martha Roby
Date: June 8, 2012
Location: Unknown

Utah's congressional delegation has helped lead a bipartisan effort of members of the U.S. Senate and House urging U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu to back away from his "Memorandum for Power Marketing Administrators," which imposes a new top-down decision making structure for electric transmission grids. The March 16 memo has created a strong and widespread reaction among consumers and power provides who rely upon Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) to allow for reliable and affordable electric rates. Chief among the complaints is that the Chu Memorandum reverses the normal bottom-up decision making process guiding decisions of the PMAs regarding the electric grid.

In the letter signed by 166 Republican and Democrat members of the Senate and House, including all members of Utah's congressional delegation, the signers state that they "have heard from numerous public power utilities, rural electric cooperatives and local officials in our states who are troubled by the potential cost impacts of these directives and by a perceived expansion of the role of the PMAs beyond their current statutory authority". The letter asks for "meaningful collaboration with stakeholders, including ratepayers and Congress, prior to moving forward with these new initiatives."

The full text of the letter is below and a signed copy can be viewed HERE.

The Honorable Steven Chu

Secretary of Energy

Washington, DC 20585

Dear Secretary Chu:

We write to express our concerns with the new direction and the initiatives contemplated for the Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) in your memo dated March 16, 2012.

In your memo, you state an intention to direct the PMAs to act in areas involving transmission expansion, renewable energy, energy efficiency, cyber security and electric vehicles in order to ensure a modern, secure and reliable electric transmission grid. While these are important public policy goals, we are concerned that these new initiatives have been put forward without sufficient evaluation of potential impacts to the customers of the clean, reliable electricity marketed by the PMAs. We have heard from numerous public power utilities, rural electric cooperatives and local officials in our states who are troubled by the potential cost impacts of these directives and by a perceived expansion of the role of the PMAs beyond their current statutory authority. These proposals also constitute a fundamental shift away from regional planning, and the understanding of local needs and impacts which comes with it, towards a Washington, D.C.-based, top-down approach. We are also concerned that the Department of Energy appears to be sidestepping the role of Congress in debating and overseeing policies relating to the PMAs.

The PMAs have responsibly marketed federally generated hydropower for decades to approximately 1,100 electric utilities in 34 states, providing this clean electricity to more than 40 million Americans. They have also built and maintained thousands of miles of high voltage transmission systems to deliver this power. Through a partnership with their customers, the PMAs repay the federal investment in these systems with interest annually. This public-private partnership between the PMAs and their customers is a model that works extraordinarily well, not only for our constituents, but for the U.S. taxpayer. Changes to this model should not be made without due consideration of the concerns of impacted stakeholders.

The federal power program is integral to keeping electricity rates affordable and reliable for the customers of community-owned and consumer-owned utilities across the states we represent. We strongly urge you to pursue meaningful collaboration with stakeholders, including ratepayers and Congress, prior to moving forward with these new initiatives.

Sincerely,

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