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Key Topics

Quickly access topics of public interest and latest developments in the rapidly changing utility industry that affect multiple aspects of WAPA's mission or services.

UNOBLIGATED BALANCES

LATEST UPDATE: July 13, 2018: The Department of Energy Inspector General concluded WAPA is appropriately managing its unobligated balances in ​its final report titled Western Area Power Administration’s Unobligated Balances from Various Funding Sources​.  Specifically, the report found WAPA had appropriately: 

  • Retained and carried forward unobligated balances in its Construction, Rehabilitation, Operation and Maintenance account from year to year; 
  • Developed and implemented a strategy for managing its unobligated balances in fiscal year 2017, as well as established a mechanism to monitor and report the balances; and 
  • Disclosed its unobligated balances to DOE’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, the Office of Management and Budget and Congress as part of the president’s budget request.

Unobligated balances help WAPA continue to operate during emergencies and serve as WAP​A's main capital funding tool, assuring sufficient funding for WAPA projects and ensure WAPA is in compliance with the Contribution Funds Act and Anti-Deficiency Act. The practice of using unobligated balances has been in place since WAPA's founding in 1977.  Under the fiscal year 2016-2020 strategy, WAPA identified target reserve balance amounts for three programs and will monitor unobligated balances monthly to ensure balances and plans align with the reserve strategy.​

  • Statement from Mark A Gabriel, Administrator and CEO​“The unobligated balance strategy is integral to our mission. It ensures we can continue delivering reliable electricity to more than 40 million Americans, regardless of unexpected events or crises.”

GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE REPORT

Dec. 15, 2016: WAPA fully implements GAO's recommendation

Oct. 30, 2015GAO releases report on WAPA's and other agencies' unobligated balances.  

  • Excerpt from GAO report: “GAO found that the selected agencies—the Departments of Commerce, Energy, and State, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)—generally managed and tracked unobligated balances to ensure the effective use of program resources in the eight reviewed accounts.”

UNOBLIGATED BALANCE STRATEGY

YEAR END UNOBLIGATED BALANCES

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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SITE SECURITY 

LATEST UPDATE: June 29, 2018: ​​The DOE Inspector General published its final report on Security Allegations at a Western Area Power Administration Site. Out of 15 allegations, two were substantiated with impact regarding evacuation drills and quality of some of the site's security cameras. The findings and recommendations from the IG report were concurred by WAPA's management team, and improvements have been implemented. 

  • ​Excerpt from the DOE IG report: "Management comments and corrective actions were responsive to our recommendations."​

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TRANSPARENCY

LATEST UPDATE: May 14, 2018: Two years after its initial release, The Source​ website​ has expanded to include a decade’s worth of financial information​ related to WAPA's operations and activities. The expansion was modeled after the January 2018 draft of the Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act in the Senate and includes rates and sales data by power system, staffing numbers, expenditures and capital investments. Learn more at the press release.

  • Statement from Mark A. Gabriel, Administrator and CEO: “The Source expansion provides accurate information in a way that is meaningful for our customers, members of Congress and other stakeholders. Transparency is integral to business, technology and organizational excellence and our refreshed core values. We look forward to further communicating with our customers to meet their needs in the energy frontier.”
  • Statement from Dennis Sullivan, Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer: “This is the culmination of several months of effort by many people around the organization. We will refresh this data annually for years to come as we continue to improve our collaborative transparency efforts with customers.”

WAPA meets with customers periodically to share annual budget plans and capital investments for the next 10 years. In these meetings, customers get insight into long-term capital investment plans, future annual budgets and current-year budget execution. In Desert Southwest, WAPA established a customer technical committee to give customers additional insight and financial transparency.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

July 2017: WAPA has provided 12,945 documents to the House Oversight & Government Reform​ Committee in response to requests for information.

June 14, 2017: Testimony before Senate Subcommittee on Water and Power 

May 18, 2017: Testimony before House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans

​Learn more about the S.930 - Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act.

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LATEST UPDATE: March 16, 2017The Department of Energy Inspector General published its report on actions Desert Southwest and WAPA had taken on government purchase cards (OIG-IR-17-01, March 2017)​. The report confirmed that WAPA took numerous corrective actions to address issues with Desert Southwest’s use of GPCs. 

  • Excerpt from DOE IG report: “We found that Desert Southwest had taken numerous actions to address the issues identified in the internal review. In addition, Western’s Headquarters had taken specific actions to address issues identified with Desert Southwest’s use of GPCs as well as actions to improve the overall Western-wide GPC Program.”
The OIG conducted the review in response to WA​PA's self-reported 2014 and 2016 internal reviews, which uncovered procedural non-compliance in the WAPA-wide GPC program and a limited number of incidents of misuse. WAPA referred $1.2 million in suspicious and potentially fraudulent purchases to DOE IG for further investigation. Upon uncovering the issues in 2014, WAPA leadership took immediate action and instituted a corrective action plan reinforcing management oversight and appropriate processes and procedures, updating GPC policy and procedures, launching additional training to cardholders, implementing new tools for management and tracking of purchases, and revising roles and responsibilities of employees. To date, several individuals have received formal disciplinary action, including some departures. One employee was sentenced in federal court with over $168,000 in restitution and five years of probation. 

Under improved policies and procedures, WAPA’s supervisors review purchases monthly, and the Government Purchase Card program as a whole is proactively monitored by WAPA on a quarterly basis.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

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BUDGETING AND RATES

STATEMENT ON DOUBLE BUDGETING
"The term "double budgeting" is a misnomer, and WAPA is not charging customers for electric service while, at the same time, receiving federal appropriations for that service. WAPA is committed to working in partnership with its Desert Southwest customers to streamline the manner in which it uses different authorities to accept customer payment and funding, and anticipates discussions on this topic to begin soon."                                      

STATEMENT ABOUT RATES
"There are 10 rate-setting power systems with in WAPA and each rate is impacted differently by hydrology and the operation and maintenance costs of WAPA and the generating agencies that operate the dams.  As a result, some power systems can experience rate increases while others may benefit from a rate reduction or enjoy flat rates over an extended period.  Ultimately, WAPA rates align with what is needed to maintain and operate an affordable, safe, secure and reliable electric system that serves 40 million homes and businesses. Toward that end, WAPA meets with customers throughout the year and carefully considers input to make sound business decisions concerning power rates. WAPA's 10-year capital planning processes ensure that customers vote on what they pay for, including capital investments funded by prepayments for service. WAPA continues to emphasize and improve the transparency of its processes, collaborate with stakeholders, and provide timely information necessary to make informed decisions."

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND
"The demands of operating a complex power delivery system have resulted in some increased spending (such as for physical and cyber security needs and related requirements), but at the same time WAPA continues to identify and implement measures to save money. All WAPA regions benefit from the $22 million saved to date as a result of continuous process improvement activities across the agency."

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MARKET STRATEGIES 

The next evolution of energy industry changes and market developments has arrived. With its expansive service te rritory and strong customer relationships, WAPA is uniquely positioned to collaborate with utility experts and its 681 customers about ongoing changes in the energy landsc​ap​e. WAPA is using partnership, innovation and collaboration to fulfill its mission and balance the demand for reliable power to support our energy-dependent economy with the shifting makeup of energy resources and emerging technologies. WAPA is addressing market participation on a region-by-region and case-by-case basis.

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Reliability

WAPA proactively addresses system reliability and contingency planning. Delivering on our mission of marketing federal hydropower throughout 15 states requires us to continually study and analyze operations. We partner with our customers and neighboring utilities with the goal of improving situational awareness and contingency planning for transmission providers and reliability coordinators so they are prepared for a worst-case scenario in real-time conditions.

Read more about WAPA's reliability assurance efforts.


 

Page Last Updated: 7/13/2018 10:22 AM