Power and Public Utility Issues

November 12, 1927

Report Outline
Boulder Canyon Dam and Muscle Shoals
Investigation of the General Electric
Public Utility Financing Investigation

Three measures involving important questions of public policy toward power development and public utility regulation, which were left unacted upon when the last Congress came to a close, will be reintroduced and pressed for adoption when the Seventieth Congress meets for its first session. They are the Boulder Canyon dam bill, the Muscle Shoals bill and the Walsh resolution for a Senate investigation of the financing of public utilities which provide gas and electrical service. These measures will combine to make power and public utility questions a leading subject for discussion before the Seventieth Congress.

Shortly after the adjournment of the last Congress a Joint Committee of National Utility Associations was organized by the National Electric Light Association, the American Electric Railway Association and the American Gas Association, roughly corresponding to the organization that was set up to oppose the adoption of the Federal Water Power act in 1920. The committee has devoted its principal attention to date to opposing the enactment of the Boulder Canyon dam bill in its present form, opposing the enactment of legislation for continued government operation of the Muscle Shoals project, and opposing adoption of the Walsh resolution by the Senate of the new Congress. Meanwhile, the progressive group, which will hold a balance of power in the Senate, has announced its support of each of the measures the Joint Committee of National Utility Associations opposes.

Power as a Political Issue in 1928

The Walsh resolution was introduced just one week before the last Congress expired. It proposed a recess investigation, which probably would have been authorized, if the resolution could have been brought to a vote. In view of the enhanced power of the progressives in the new Congress, it is expected that favorable action will be taken on the resolution early in the coming session. The principal contest will come on a proposal to amend the resolution so that the investigation may be made by the Federal Trade Commission rather than a Senate committee. If the inquiry is conducted by a Senate committee one of the effects may be to project the questions it raises into the 1928 political campaign. Public utility interests, in opposing the Walsh resolution, assert that it is designed solely to serve political ends.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Nov. 12, 1927  Power and Public Utility Issues
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Electric Power