Today, Western Area Power Administration celebrates 45 years as a power marketing administration, keeping the lights on in the West for over 40 million Americans. It has been an incredible journey providing cost-based federal hydropower and transmission services, for both employees and customers alike. ​ WAPA’s first day as an organization was Oct. 1, 1977 which was the effective date of the Department of Energy Organization Act; however, we celebrate the day we formally adopted the name Western Area Power Administration on Dec. 21 of that year as our anniversary.

WAPA is the youngest of the four power marketing administrations in the Department of Energy and responsible for selling hydropower generated at federal hydroelectric dams and facilities across the central and western United States. WAPA also owns, operates and maintains a more than 17,000 circuit-mile high voltage transmission system that represents a significant proportion of the backbone grid system in our 15-state territory.

Electricity underpins economies, supports communities and strengthens our modern way of life. For the past 45 years, WAPA has provided over 700 wholesale customers, primarily small, rural and underserved communities, with at-cost, affordable and reliable hydropower and transmission services. We power small towns and cities, rural electric cooperatives, military installations, public utility districts, irrigation districts, federal and state agencies and Native American Tribes and Tribal utilities.

Each day millions of Americans benefit from clean federal hydropower. On average, the 28,000 gigawatt-hours that WAPA delivers each year is enough to meet 100 percent of energy needs for more than 2.6 million residences. Even in a time of drought, the value of hydro is undisputed. As such, the relevance of our mission to our customers and the nation remains fundamentally the same, from 1977 to 2022, regardless of the changing times and the issues before us.

Our mission, with a few minor wording adjustments, has remained constant over 45 years to “Safely provide reliable, cost-based hydropower and transmission to our customers and the communities we serve.​” The role of our dedicated employees is also steadfast. We are public servants who champion the communities we serve.

We are the crafts and professionals who design, construct, maintain and repair our extensive transmission system. We are natural resources specialists who secure and protect lands and cultural resources. We are power marketing women and men who sell the hydropower, purchase power and energy services and market transmission. We are dispatchers who direct the energy within our balancing authorities. We are an aligned organization believes that there is nothing we do that we cannot take the time to do safely, to ensure we get our folks home at the end of the day. And, we are a wide array of innovative energy professionals who power the West.  

We have come together throughout four decades to not only deliver upon on our mission, but to also navigate the extremes, while often helping our neighbors and customers quickly restore power after devastating events. We have come together to adapt to the emerging energy markets, defend against rising threats and construct, maintain and rebuild segments our system. We have and continue to play a meaningful and significant role in our evolving industry and in our nation’s fast-moving energy landscape.

The complexities we face as an industry continue to grow, but our mission and common purpose serve as a beacon – a beacon that guides us all the time, but is so much more important during periods of uncertainty and when we are faced with tough decisions.  Our values also serve as a beacon, as we look forward to sustaining our public service mission for years to come and to continue to, as a WAPA core value states, “serve like our lights depend on it.”