The Arizona Power Authority (APA) was created in 1944 to obtain Arizona’s share of hydroelectric energy generated on the Colorado River. It is administered by a five-member commission. Current statutory authority is found at A.R.S.§ 30-101 through 30-228.
The Arizona Power Authority manages Arizona’s allocation of hydroelectric power generated from the Hoover Dam. The power generated is delivered to several western states. Hoover Dam was constructed in order to control the Colorado River floods, provide storage and delivery of stored water among western states, and to generate electricity as a means to provide a source of funding for the project.
The APA works with federal, state and non-governmental agencies to address regulatory and environmental matters related to electric generation and use of Colorado River water. For example, the APA participates in the Engineering and Operations Committee, a forum for the 15 agencies who purchase power from Hoover Dam, which reviews the plan of operation developed by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Western Area Power Authority. The APA has electric and transmission contracts with the Western Area Power Authority. The APA also participates in the Lower Colorado River Multi Species Conservation Plan, which is designed to create riparian, marsh and backwater habitat for fish, birds, mammals and plants.
The APA is a self-supporting agency, governed by a five-member commission, appointed by the Governor to six-year terms.
The APA was established by the Legislature in 1944 to obtain electric power developed from the mainstream of the Colorado River and to sell the power to qualified purchasers. Hoover power is produced by the Boulder Canyon Project hydropower plant, owned by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Power is transmitted to Arizona, California and Nevada. Hoover Dam was dedicated in 1935 and the Hoover Power plant was in full operation in 1936. The APA first contracted for Arizona’s share of Hoover power in 1952.
Governor Sidney Osborn explained his reasons for signing the bill in a letter to Secretary of State Dan Garvey, dated March 27, 1944 which reads in part “….the Power Authority Act of 1944…marks the first forward movement…to derive benefit from hydro-electric energy…generated on the Colorado River.” He believed it was vital to obtain the electric power allotted to Arizona by Congress. He also stated “The Power Authority Act of 1944 may be regarded as supplementary to the recent Acts of the Legislature approving the Colorado River Contract and [Colorado River] Compact.” Those two measures address apportionment, storage and delivery of Arizona’s share of Colorado River water. His three-page letter is found at the end of Laws 1944, 2nd Special Session, Chapter 32, at page 563 of the PDF. See also Laws 1944, 1st Special Session, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5.
Laws 1945, 1st Special Session, Chapter 14 transferred the powers and duties of the Colorado River Commission related to power generated by the Colorado River to the Arizona Power Authority. Other responsibilities of the Colorado River Commission related to rights to the waters of the Colorado River were transferred to the State Land Commissioner. At the time, the State Land Commissioner also served as State Water Commissioner. See state agency history of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
Laws 1947, Chapter 139 modified the jurisdiction, powers and duties of the APA Commission; the issuance of power purchase certificates; power apportionment, sales and rates; and certain fiscal matters. In 1947, Congress changed the name of Boulder Dam to Hoover Dam, requiring conforming changes to state statutes.
Laws 1956, Chapter 151 addressed development programs to utilize power and construct water facilities; disposition of power and establishment of power rates; construction and maintenance of dams; and preservation of existing water rights.
Laws 1971, Chapter 49 established the Arizona Water Commission, replacing the Arizona Interstate Stream Commission. The Legislature included a statement of intent, explaining the measure was not intended to alter, amend or restrict the powers and duties of the APA. The Water Commission was required to coordinate and confer with the APA.
In 1974 the Legislature required the APA to encourage activities, including research and development, which would investigate solar, nuclear and geothermal energy. The APA was authorized to bargain for, take and receive the energy in its name on behalf of the state. See Laws 1974, Chapter 21.
In 1984, a plan to increase the capacity of existing generating equipment at the Hoover Dam Power plant was approved at the federal level. Rather than appropriate federal funds, Congress required prospective purchasers of the increased capacity and associated energy to contribute to financing the “Uprating Program.” The APA financed a portion of the Uprating Program by issuing bonds.
Laws 2016, Chapter 107 continued the APA for eight years and established the Office of Administrative Hearings as the entity that would conduct hearings on appeals of APA actions. The measure also required the Auditor General to conduct an audit of the APA. The audit, issued December 30, 2016, indicated the “…Authority’s 2015 allocation of Hoover power involved public input and was consistent with legal requirements” and recommended that “the Authority should implement the new policies and procedures it developed during the audit to improve conflict of interest disclosures and procurement practices.” See Arizona Power Authority Performance Audit, Report 16-111.
In response to the recommendations outlined by the 2016 Auditor General report, legislation was enacted in 2017 to require APA Commissioners to follow state conflict of interest laws and to keep minutes of meetings and executive sessions as prescribed by statute. See Laws 2017, Chapter 3.
Laws 2019, Chapter 41 revised statutory requirements relating to the APA administrative and operation budgets and required the budget cycle to coincide with the federal fiscal year. The measure also removed the cap of $75,000 for the annual administrative budget.
- A.R.S.§ 30-101 through 30-228
- Session Laws
- Laws 1944, First Special Session, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5
- Laws 1944, Second Special Session, Chapter 32 and House Journal, 1944, Second Special Session
- Laws 1945, First Special Session, Chapter 14
- Laws 1947, Chapter 139
- Laws 1956, Chapter 151
- Laws 1971, Chapter 49
- Laws 1974, Chapter 21
- Laws 2016, Chapter 107
- Laws 2017, Chapter 3
- Laws 2019, Chapter 41
Arizona Auditor General website
Arizona Power Authority website
Arizona Power Authority Performance Audit, Arizona Auditor General Report No. 16-111. December 30, 2016.
Arizona Power Authority 55th Annual Report, 2013
Arizona Power Authority annual reports
Master List of State Programs
US Bureau of Reclamation: www.usbr.gov
Related collections at Arizona State Archives
- Record Group 75 – Arizona Power Authority
- Record Group 25 – Colorado River Commission