The US House of Representatives has voted down a Democrat effort to force regulators to order bigger refunds for electricity consumers in Western states who were victims of price gouging during the energy crisis of 2000 and 2001.

The vote came shortly before the House approved by a margin of 370-16 a $28 billion measure financing energy and water programmes for next year. The overall bill provides far less than President Bush proposed for building a nuclear waste storage facility in Nevada, none of what he wanted to develop new nuclear weapons, and more than he sought for local water. Democrat Anna Eshoo’s proposal would have required the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order consumer refunds for the high power prices charged during the 2000 and 2001 energy crisis. It would have also forced the commission to open new investigations to pursue refunds and order reimbursements for any future manipulation.

The House approved one part of Eshoo’s plan – a provision that requires the commission to release documents relating to the 2000 and 2001 power crisis.

Bush proposed $880m for the project, which the government hopes to complete by 2010. But the bill ignores Bush’s request to finance $749m of the sum by taking it from a special nuclear waste fund, which comes from fees electric utilities charge their customers. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved legislation requiring that at least $750m be taken annually from that fund for work on the Yucca waste disposal facility.

The measure also has less than Bush wanted for fuel cell technology, storage of high level nuclear waste, and financial aid to help Russia promote plutonium security.