Public Power Risk Management Act up for House vote

US House of Representatives vote Public Power Risk Management Act 2013 HR 1038 Electric Light & Power POWERGRID International

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote June 12 on the Public Power Risk Management Act of 2012,  also known as H.R. 1038, described as providing equal treatment for utility special entities using utility operations-related swaps, and for other purposes, according to Electric Light & Power/POWERGRID International magazines. The bill is currently under suspension of the rules, meaning that it is not subject to amendment but must receive two-thirds vote to pass.

The bill’s sponsors include Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.). It was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 11, 2013.

The bill is supported by groups including the Consumer Federation of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Commodity Markets Oversight Coalition (including Public Citizen), and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

According to the American Public Power Association (APPA), the bill was the subject of a House Agriculture Committee hearing on March 14 and approved by the Committee with a unanimous voice vote on March 20, 2013. It currently has 42 Republican and Democratic sponsors and cosponsors.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would change the way certain electric and natural gas utility contracts are regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Under current law, most firms that offer contracts to hedge or mitigate market risks are regulated as “swap dealers” if the value of their transactions exceeds certain thresholds. H.R. 1038 would direct the CFTC to exclude certain types of agreements with publicly owned utilities from the calculation of the threshold for transactions with “special entities,” which includes governmental or nonprofit entities. That change could make it easier for firms to enter into hedging arrangements with public utilities without being regulated as a swap dealer.

Pay-as-you-go procedures apply to this bill because it could affect direct spending by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). CBO estimates, however, that the net effect on direct spending would not be significant in any year. Enacting the legislation would not affect revenues. Based on information from the CFTC, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would have a negligible effect on spending subject to appropriation.

CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 1038 would have no significant effect on the operations of TVA and BPA because most of their hedging agreements are with large firms that already are regulated as swap dealers by the CFTC. In addition, any changes resulting from the bill would have a negligible effect on net direct spending because TVA and BPA routinely adjust their electricity prices and revenues to account for changes in their operating expenses, as required by law.

H.R. 1038 contains no intergovernmental or private sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local or tribal governments.

This article was originally published on Electric Light & Power/POWERGRID International. It was republished with permission.