AZ Rep. Gosar rips federal power agency after ABC15 investigation

Rep. Paul Gosar ripped into the Western Area Power Administration during a congressional hearing to discuss a bill aimed at increasing transparency for the federal agency.

Citing the findings of an ABC15 investigation, the Arizona congressman criticized and questioned a top WAPA official during a House Subcommittee on Water Power and Oceans.

“One of the agency’s customers recently told me it’s like WAPA has a Visa card without a credit limit and we can’t see the statement,” Gosar said.

The bill, co-sponsored by Gosar, would require the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) to create a public website containing detailed information about customer rates and agency expenses.

Five other members of Arizona’s congressional delegation have signed onto the bill.

It is companion legislation to a bill introduced by Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake last month.  

“(The bill) requires much needed transparency,” Gosar said.

WAPA sells power from federal power facilities to utilities and other entities in 15 western states. The federal agency’s reach impacts 40 million people.

As part of the bill’s announcement, the senators specifically cited an ABC15 investigation that that uncovered out-of-control waste, abuse and fraud inside WAPA. Whistleblowers told reporters that top officials were indifferent to improper financial practices and slow or unwilling to fix them.

WAPA has denied those allegations.

WAPA has also drawn criticism over the size of a reserve balance that has topped more than $700 million. The huge sum of money has raised questions about whether the agency has overcharged for power and whether rate decreases should be returned to customers.

The bill would also require WAPA to produce a “detailed accounting” of unobligated balances.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com.

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