Hydroelectricity – The Tie That Binds

Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) is a power marketing administration within the U.S. Department of Energy whose role is to market and deliver clean, renewable, reliable, cost-based federal hydroelectric power in the central and western United States.

The Missouri River dams were built in the 1930s, '40s, '50s and '60s primarily for flood control. Hydroelectricity was a byproduct of these flood-control projects, along with irrigation, recreation, navigation and other purposes. Because the dams were built along public waterways, using public funds, they were deemed to fall under a national policy known as the "Preference Clause." The Preference Clause dates back to the founding of the United States, which declares that America's natural resources belong to its people. For that reason, not-for-profit public entities such as municipalities and rural electric cooperatives were given first rights to the electricity the federally owned multi-purpose dams produce.

MRES was originally formed to help municipal utilities obtain an allocation of hydropower generated from the dams on the Missouri River. WAPA markets the Missouri River hydropower and is the base-load power supplier to 59 of the 61 MRES member communities.

MRES advocates for our members at the federal level to protect and maintain their WAPA power allocations and cost-based rates. We also help members manage their WAPA power supply, transmission service and contracts.

MRES works with various interest groups, including Western States Power Corporation (WSPC), to protect our members' hydropower allocations.

WSPC was formed in 1995 by a group of WAPA customers as a not-for-profit corporation to explore opportunities to assist WAPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with funding for federal hydroelectric system improvements, transmission and related facilities, and planning and administration. The organization is comprised of 23 utilities representing members from 11 states.

Each year, MRES advances dollars for these projects through WSPC. The dollars are then refunded to MRES in full as the government funding becomes available.

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