Sinema Protecting Hoover Dam, Affordable Energy with New Bipartisan Bill

Mar 26, 2024

New Sinema bill allows Bureau of Reclamation to use unused funds for Hoover Dam’s operation, maintenance, and replacement projects

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced the Help Hoover Dam Act – new legislation preserving Hoover Dam as an affordable energy source and strengthening the Southwest’s electrical grid. Sinema’s legislation was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Cortez Masto (Nev.), Rosen (Nev.), Padilla (Calif.), and Butler (Calif.). U.S. Representative Susie Lee (Nev.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The legislation gives the Bureau of Reclamation the authority to use “stranded funds” currently in the Colorado River Dam Fund to pay for operation, maintenance, and replacement projects at Hoover Dam.

“Our legislation supporting Hoover Dam’s maintenance and preservation projects strengthens Arizona’s electrical grid – providing Arizonans with affordable and reliable energy,” said Senator Sinema.

“For the Hoover Dam to remain a dependable power source for Arizona, it’s essential that we take every step possible to secure the dam’s future. I’m proud to support this commonsense solution,” said Senator Kelly.

“Senator Sinema has a history of cutting through the bureaucracy in Washington.  She has done just that with the introduction of the Help Hoover Dam Act.  This bill will allow the Bureau of Reclamation to use previously collected customer funding for its intended purposes, operation, maintenance, and repair of the dam.  These funds have been collected for over two decades by fiat,  but they have been stranded and inaccessible to the Bureau.  Hoover Dam generation is down nearly 40% during this time, due to the worst drought in modern history.  This bill will allow the Bureau to maintain Hoover Dam while protecting power customers from rate shock in the near future.  On behalf of the Irrigation and Electrical Districts of Arizona, we thank Senator Sinema and Representative Lee for their introduction of this bill on behalf of the Hoover Dam customers,” said Ed Gerak, Executive Director of IEDA.

“Senator Sinema continues to deliver for Arizona’s rural electric Cooperatives and its members. We thank her for introducing the Help Hoover Dam Act which will help defray O&M costs being borne by preference customers at a time when any and all financial relief is welcomed,” said Dave Lock, CEO, Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association.

“The Help Hoover Dam Act is urgently needed to ensure adequate funding for operation, maintenance and replacement projects at Hoover dam and mitigate cost impacts on consumers. The dam provides clean and affordable energy to many southwestern rural communities and is critical to maintaining grid reliability in the western United States. We appreciate Senator Sinema’s efforts to ensure that electric cooperatives and other not-for-profit utilities can continue to rely on Hoover Dam to meet the energy needs of their communities,” said Louis Finkel, Senior Vice President of Government Relations, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

“Drought on the Colorado River has had a dramatic impact to Hoover Dam customers, reducing generation by roughly 40 percent compared to pre-drought generation levels. This legislation is urgently needed to help not-for-profit, community-owned utilities served by Hoover Dam to continue to serve their communities during this difficult time,” said Amy Thomas, Vice President of Government Relations, American Public Power Association.

“The Hoover Dam provides electricity to thousands of households in Nevada, and this commonsense legislation will strengthen its sustainability and resilience for generations to come,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Cutting through red tape and freeing up stranded funds will allow the Bureau of Reclamation to revitalize and preserve the Hoover Dam while keeping prices low for Nevada families. I’ll continue working to deliver resources to protect our water supply, upgrade our infrastructure, and make sure Nevada stays at the center of our clean energy future.”

“The Hoover Dam generates clean energy and helps support local Nevada communities, but bureaucracy in Washington is holding back millions of dollars in funding for critical repairs,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m proud to help introduce this legislation to cut through red tape and allow these funds – which have been inaccessible for decades – to be used to support the Hoover Dam and prevent unnecessary rate hikes for Nevadans.”

“The Hoover Dam provides affordable, clean hydropower for hundreds of thousands of Southern California residents,” said Senator Padilla. “As the Southwest recovers from years of historic drought, freeing up millions of dollars in inaccessible funds for Hoover Dam will support a more resilient, secure electric grid throughout the region.”

“Passing the Help Hoover Dam Act would enable us to secure the funds needed to keep these generators running which would result in cheaper, reliable energy for California and reduced harm on the environment,” said Senator Butler. 

“I am proud to lead the bipartisan, bicameral Help Hoover Dam Act in the House to cut through federal red tape and free tens of millions of dollars in long-stranded funding for Hoover Dam improvement projects,” said Congresswoman Susie Lee, lead House sponsor of the Help Hoover Dam Act. “We can’t let government bureaucracy stop us from making necessary investments in the Hoover Dam – Nevadans depend on it for clean power, precious water resources, and countless recreational opportunities. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will help keep our energy prices from going up, protect our natural resources, and save taxpayers money.” 

Hoover Dam is an affordable, clean energy source for many rural communities in the Southwest – serving the electrical needs of nearly 8 million people in Arizona, southern California, and southern Nevada. Sinema’s Help Hoover Dam Act strengthens the reliability of the electrical grid by freeing up stranded funds to complete operation, maintenance, and replacement projects.

In response to worsening drought conditions facing the American West, Sinema launched a Water Advisory Council at Hoover Dam – an assembly of Arizona water experts and key stakeholders from diverse backgrounds – to develop solutions securing the region’s water future.

Between Sinema’s bipartisan infrastructure law and the historic climate and energy law she shaped, the Senator has secured more than $12 billion in drought relief and Western water funding. Sinema regularly meets with farmers, stakeholders, irrigation groups, tribal leaders, and her Water Advisory Council to ensure the funding is implemented efficiently and effectively.