DOE Needs To Improve Timeliness of Third Annual Reports on Title I of PURPA

EMD-81-56: Published: Apr 28, 1981. Publicly Released: Apr 28, 1981.

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Title I of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act establishes three purposes: end-use conservation, utility efficiency, and equitable rates. To achieve the purposes, State regulatory authorities and nonregulated electric utilities must consider five regulatory standards and determine if such standards should be adopted for each electric utility for which it has ratemaking authority. States and nonregulated electric utilities must also begin considering six ratemaking standards and determine if such ratemaking standards should be implemented. States and nonregulated electric utilities are required to report to the Department of Energy (DOE) on their consideration and determination progress of the 11 standards. DOE must prepare a report to the President and Congress containing a summary and analysis of the reports submitted by States and nonregulated utilities, and recommendations for Federal actions to carry out the purposes of title I. The annual reports are expected to be a vehicle for accurately measuring the progress of these entities in order to provide a basis for legislative oversight by Congress.

The GAO review of the reports issued so far disclosed that information contained in the reports was 4 months old when submitted from States and nonregulated electric utilities to DOE, 10 months old when reported from DOE to the President and Congress, and 18 months old when the statutory completion dates for the consideration process for the ratemaking and regulatory standards were reported. Out-of-date information can hinder Congress' legislative oversight responsibilities and delay possible needed amendments to the legislation. The noncurrent information has caused confusion and concern about the progress in implementing title I. GAO evaluated two options for making the information more timely. The first option was the use of an abbreviated interim report from States and nonregulated utilities. The second option was the advancement of the cut-off date for the information in the reports. DOE, the States, and nonregulated utilities were opposed to the idea of an interim report. GAO found that the cut-off date for information in the annual reports from States and nonregulated utilities could be advanced and not result in more cost or work to the reporting entities. DOE is aware of the problem of out-of-date information and has recently taken steps toward minimizing the timeliness problem for the third annual reports. Administration budget proposals for fiscal years 1981 and 1982 severely reduce the DOE staff that are responsible for grant programs and legislated reports, including this work.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should require States and nonregulated electric utilities to submit their third annual report to DOE by December 31, 1981, with status information through November 9, 1981. Because of the limited staff available, DOE should monitor the development of the report and the staffing level to assure that the report is issued by June 30, 1982.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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