H.R. 251: South Utah Valley Electric Conveyance Act

H.R. 251

South Utah Valley Electric Conveyance Act

Date
June 11, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, the House will consider H.R. 251, the South Utah Valley Electric Conveyance Act,under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on January 15, 2013 by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which reported the bill by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

H.R. 251 conveys all of the United States right, title, and interest in certain parts of the Strawberry Valley Project’s Electric Distribution System to the South Utah Valley Electric District (the District).  The bill also directs the Secretary of the Interior to grant licenses to the District in perpetuity to ensure that the District has access to operate and maintain its property.  By conveying the land to the District, the bill stipulates that the United States is no longer liable for the lands.  Lastly, if the conveyance has not been accomplished within one year after enactment, H.R. 251 requires the Secretary to report to Congress on the status of the conveyance and the obstacles preventing it.

Background

According to the Committee on Natural Resources[1], the Bureau of Reclamation started the Strawberry Valley Project (SVP) in Utah in 1906 and has since grown to include a 296-mile long electric transmission and distribution system.  The Strawberry Water Users Association (SWUA) owned a portion of the electricity distribution system and operated the SVP until 1986.

In 1986, the SWUA sold its portion of the electricity distribution system to the South Utah Electric Service District.  Reclamation approved the sale on the condition that the sale be limited to those portions that were not part of the original SVP or were not constructed on federal lands or easements.  While at the time of the sale, all parties believed most of the distribution system was non-federal, Reclamation has recently determined that most of the system was built on federal easements.  As a result, Reclamation believes the federal government still owns most of the distribution system, though Reclamation’s claim is difficult to determine due to inadequate paperwork.

H.R. 251 resolves this confusion by conveying the whole system to local ownership.  An identical bill (H.R. 461) passed the House in the 112th Congress by voice vote on September 23, 2011.


[1] See Committee Report 113-78

Cost

CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 251 would “have no significant net impact on the federal budget.”[1]