Newhouse leads colleagues in charge against reforms to power marketing administrations

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) led a bipartisan group of more than 60 lawmakers in urging U.S. House budget leaders against power marketing administration (PMA) reforms, which he said could increase consumer electricity costs and create market uncertainty.

“While I understand the need to streamline federal projects and reduce our government spending, the privatization of PMAs would create uncertainty and lead to higher electricity bills for millions of families across the United States, especially in rural areas,” Rep. Newhouse said in a May 9 statement.

For instance, the congressman said that his constituents in central Washington rely on the consistent and affordable power supplied by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a federal agency created by Congress in 1937 to market electric power from the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River and to construct facilities needed to transmit that power.

“Hydropower projects utilized by PMAs, including the federal dams in the Pacific Northwest, operate at no cost to the taxpayer and we should be looking to them as examples of successful federal investments,” said Rep. Newhouse.

To further that sentiment, Rep. Newhouse joined U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and some 60 other lawmakers in sending a May 8 letter to leaders of the U.S. House Budget Committee opposing transmission asset divestment and changes in pricing structure for four PMAs within the U.S. Department of Energy that include the BPA.

“These misguided budget proposals would undermine infrastructure goals and sideline investment that could otherwise be used on new projects,” the congressmen wrote in the letter to U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), chairman of the House Budget Committee, and U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), the committee’s ranking member. “We urge the Budget Committee to reject these shortsighted requests.”

Currently, House appropriators are considering such action as part of the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget.

Rep. Newhouse and his colleagues wrote that selling these assets would create “more problems associated with energy production and delivery as well as retail customer rate changes than this one-time federal debt reduction move would solve.”

“Further, we stand opposed to the companion proposal which would change the current cost-based rate structure for all four of the PMAs to a market-based rate structure,” they wrote.