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July 28, 2014

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NV Energy customers may get zapped for conserving

Pushing energy efficiency is affecting NV Energy’s bottom line, prompting it to seek rate hike

Beyond the Sun

The state’s electric company wants to raise power bills by as much as 5 percent for Southern Nevadans as compensation for the loss of electricity sales because customers are more power-efficient.

NV Energy said programs it funds, such as subsidizing energy-efficient light bulbs and helping customers replace old air conditioners and refrigerators, will result in a loss of $35 million in energy sales this year in Clark County. A rate increase of almost 5 percent will reimburse the utility for its loss, it has told the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.

NV Energy is asking for $7.5 million from Northern Nevada customers, a 3 percent rate increase.

The PUC is expected this month to rule on the request, which is facing opposition from the Consumer Protection Bureau, part of the attorney general’s office, as well as PUC staff.

The utility got permission to seek such rate increases in a bill it pushed during the 2009 Legislature that passed easily.

Some economic development experts worry high energy prices will hurt the state’s competitiveness.

Nevada has the highest power rates of any mountain state, Nevada Consumer Advocate Eric Witkoski said. “The company pushed to build power that we don’t need, energy-efficiency programs we don’t need. It’s not a pretty picture for the customer.”

NV Energy said it needs to recoup its costs to promote energy efficiency, or it would have no incentive to do so.

“There’s a cost to investing in energy efficiency,” said John Owens, director of customer renewable generation and energy. A ratepayer will benefit from energy efficiency because that investment could delay the need for new power plants, he said. Also, Owens noted, individuals could use less energy to save money and offset any rate increase.

“All customers benefit from total investments that utilities have made to serve them,” Owens said. “The fact that the rate is a little higher because overall sales are lower doesn’t mean they’re not getting the full benefit of the investment.”

The public-policy debate over whether a utility should be allowed to increase rates because it is not selling all the electricity that it can because of energy conservation by customers is playing out in several states. Among the issues is identifying whether electricity sales are down because of conservation or because of a sour economy.

“We are arguing about what a light bulb saves or doesn’t save; how many light bulbs people put in or not,” Witkoski said. “Are the lost sales because of energy efficiency or because the economy went down?”

NV Energy reported last week that its first-quarter 2011 net income of $2.3 million, compared with a consolidated net loss of $1.7 million, or 1 cent per share diluted, for the same period in 2010.

NV Energy had the ability to recover costs for its programs, making its usual 10 percent profit over costs plus another 5 percent because it was an efficiency program.

But the utility argued that measurement didn’t consider the long-term effect on usage. The programs lead to customers using less energy, which hurt the utility’s bottom line.

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  1. Last summer I employed a swamp cooler in the rear window instead of HVAC. and that saved 60% during the hot months... This summer, I'll have to increase home energy conservation another 15%.

  2. This is typical for utilities. The government should run the utility like in other parts of the country.

  3. Same thing happened in Mesquite. Overton Power raised energy charges 15% and increased base charge (for the meter) by 50% to $20 per month. The reason - decreased power loads.

    So much for the law of supply and demand!

  4. Nevada Energy has a lot of nerve, first of all, holding the average citizen and all those economically below him HOSTAGE for service! Our state and country continues to experience an economic crisis, thousands of workers in Nevada face getting their paychecks trimmed (might I add, for the 4th year now), rather than get a COST of LIVING RAISE to cover such things as the greedy assault Nevada Energy purposes.

    Just like the water situation here in Las Vegas, we all conserve, because it is a desert here and basically those in control allowed unsustainable growth beyond what the current water supply could maintain. People conserved power, and now Nevada Energy wants to punish the customer for their conservation efforts because it cuts into THEIR PROFITS FOR PAYING THEIR GREEDY INVESTORS.

    Let the government take over the utilities. We are seeing what free enterprise does: pays the bullies and the greedy!!!

  5. Putting aside the fact that NV Energy is regulated by the PUC does anyone know if decoupling is being seriously discussed?

  6. So what's the point of conserving energy. Nevada has most everything backwards. Let's see what the politicians do about this... NOTHING! In the minds of big business and the government, citizens are a bottomless pit of money from which they can draw at will. No matter the lunacy. These demigods must be a product of the public school system in Nevada.

  7. I agree with roster, and I live the same way.

    Once again we consumers are penalized for conserving and not rewarded as we should be.

    Where is the incentive to conserve?

  8. The future in Las Vegas is : "From dust to dust"
    whithin two decades.

  9. ronster...I agree with ronster.

  10. Its always about the stockholders,...its always about the money,...its never about quality service. Every 10th word is to conserve and when we do they bend us over,...same with gas prices. We have a glut of oil and gas in vast supplies. People don't drive as much as before because either they have no job (thanks to our government) or they cut back, drive smaller cars and were rewarded for that by paying the highest price per gallon in history. There IS no regulation for corporations anymore,...they do what they damn well please and those of us who have very little are expected to tote their note. Who they gonna screw when they destroy us? Our kids,...hell they'll have less than we do.

  11. So this is what going "Green" gets us? Follow the money. Green detergents don't get my clothes clean. green soaps don't clean the grime from my hands and now conserving energy is going to cost me more than what I make. Subjugation of the masses through dependency on the government equals tyranny. Get rid of the EPA.

  12. It seems to be the same argument that the government is making about a vehicles mileage tax. They are getting less money from gasoline taxes than they would if we had not started to conserve so they want to start taxing mileage to get the revenues back up. There is infrastructure to maintain and I guess the revenues have to come from somewhere, although at this point higher gas taxes would at least hit harder on those not conserving. In numerous places there have been government water agencies that have had to raise water rates because the conservation programs were so successful that it significantly hurt their revenue.

    And what was NV Energy supposed to do several years ago when looking at booming growth in the state and rising energy consumption? Should they have said, "This will not last." and not built anything, leaving the state without sufficient power if the growth had continued? You make a call on those things based on what you see and the fact that it takes years to get plants built. Hopefully they were not building on speculation of sales to California or other markets that Nevada will now have eat. And none of that changes the fact that even as they sell less power, they still have the same physical delivery infrastructure to support and maintain. Whether it is roads, water or power, if people use less, you have to spread the costs over the remaining use.

    Hopefully the PUC will do a thorough job of looking at whether their requests are justified before they approve anything. And, as a couple of other comments hinted toward, the higher rates will just mean people will do more to conserve.

  13. I don't suppose GrammiSami could actually back up it's claims??? Green dishwasher packs work better than the old ones ever did for me. Green clothes washer detergents work better as well. And what is this green soap??? The rest of GrammiSami's post is nonsense and reeks of conspiracy theory delusions.

  14. The root of the problem is the utilities are monopolies.

  15. "Also, Owens noted, individuals could use less energy to save money and offset any rate increase."

    So we use less energy to offset the new rate increase, Owens and NV Energy raise the rates because they are not making enough profit, so we ues less energy to offset the NEW new rate increase, Owens and NV Energy raise the rates because they are STILL no tmaking enough profit, etc. etc.

    <insert profanity here>

    Lets call NV Energy Customer service at (702) 402-5555
    and tell them what they can do with their plan. Here is their email address, too: [email protected]

  16. Look at the Sun Archives on the side of the story:

    NV Energy reports $2.3 million in 1Q net profits (4-29-2011)

    Five freaking days ago they are swimming in profits. Now they are broke. Owens should be the first to lose his job.

  17. Go ahead NV energy raise them rates up!!! since I have solar power, I dont care. Raising the rates only makes my system pay for itself that much quicker. Just keep them $8.40 per month electric bills coming.
    I knew when I moved here in 2009, that there was something wrong with the rates, as they are about double what I paid in Seatle Wa. About .13 cents per KWH. There are a few other places where it is worse, such as hawaii, at .28 cents per KWH.
    The city of Henderson followed my example and built a solar system, and told NV energy to take it's over priced electricity and shove it.
    one thing I wonder, is if we have a hydro electric plant here in Nevada(Hoover Dam), that produces huge amounts of cheap electricity localy, why is that electricity being sold to california? Instead of contributing to cheap rates?
    I reccommend to any one to build a solar power system if they possibly can.

  18. Citizens should be given the choice:
    1-use whatever public utility is available
    2-be given by the USA government solar panel and/or wind power generators to be affixed to property.

    Presently, there is NO REAL CHOICE.
    Public utility companies present a ruthless monopoly that preys upon those who have not the means to employ/utilize/implement alternate power generators. There are all kinds of determents to prevent homeowners from embracing and putting alternative power on their properties: costs, permits, zoning, "not in my backyard" roadblocks, and quickly changing technology. It just makes a soul want to curl up with their Mother Earth magazine and simply dream about such things. Senator Reid has taken care to bring in the BIG GREEN industry people, but really has not made it something that the little people, "We the People," can yet really reach, let alone have. The red tape laden, grants that defer a fraction of a realistic sized generator for a homeowner, still is way out of reach for the hard hit people in the USA. Does he care? Let's vote.....

    We spend so much money on other countries, the war industry, and whatever Wall Street dictates, why can't we provide energy for those homeowners who wish to conserve and use it? Let's ENCOURAGE THIS BEHAVIOR!

    Oh, wait, that might take from the profits of the shareholders in these utility companies that have a monopoly over us.

  19. Once agan, as California goes, so goes Nevada. Here in California, P.G.&E is proposing eliminating it's highest rate teir becaause those who have huge houses are complaining about the high cost of energy. In order to make up for it, they are going to add a monthly meter fee to everyone, so those of us who conserve will be getting a higher bill, so the energy hogs in 5,000 s.f. houses can save money. If you want a big house, and want to keep it like an ice box in the summer (and an oven in the winter), That's a luxury you should consider before buying such a huge place, just enjoy it and pay the price.
    My number one reason for conserving is to save money since work is slow, the "green" effect is a side benefit that certainly dosen't hurt. We spent about $700 on our gas & electric bills last year, I know some who pay twice that in a single summer month. Those of us who are "tapped out" are forced to conserve.
    We are winning on our water bill. We had a flat rate (no meter) and the bill was $68 every month. 2 1/2 years ago we had the water company install a meter, and our highest bill has been just over $30.00, with some below $20. The water company did not charge to install the meter, We are careful about our use, (don't need it running full blast while you brush your teeth, etc.) We save over $500 a year on the water bill alone by having the meter. It will be good until others do it, then they'll no doubt raise the rates, but I'm enjoying it now.

  20. This is my second post on this matter,...I slept on it and with a clear mind I think Its absurd! Consumers are being gouged, ripped off and screwed. Ok I know thats nothing new but for a company to beat the drum about CONSERVATION and then have the audacity to raise rates 5% because people CONSERVED takes balls. (sorry but if Geoff Peterson can say it so can I) Its time to push back,...ring their phones off the hook and just raise hell,...something we all should be doing with the clucks and clowns in Washington too.

  21. What really gets my goose, is when the "service charge", that flat fee on the monthly bill one pays regardless of actual useage, is GREATER than my actual metered use of that service!

    It seems to me, like there should be a program to reward those who are conserving. But no. Anti-logic comes to play, it is a game that the only winners are those who invested in utility stocks, never the consumer of such services. Ever.

  22. Noindex---Yup, the root of the problem is that the utilities companies are monopolies. Given that, is anybody really surprised that NVEnergy would try to pull such a stunt?

  23. With Gasoline at a all time high, and electric heading to a all time high and Jobs at a all time low.

    Isn't this a perfect storm for a revolution?

    Wake up politicians and realize you squeeze too long and something will pop (sorry to be so graphic)

    Storm the Bastille!

    Jonathan

  24. If you want to kill conservation, this will do it. If we're not careful we'll end up like CA and air-conditioning will be a luxury only for the well heeled.

    What NVenergy is asking for is to be shielded from the vagaries of the market based on weather and economic cycles. In other words, a guarantee. No one providing goods or service for profit has the right to be guaranteed a positive balance sheet insulated from outside influence.

    Any politician that considers voting for this should be sent home, regardless of party.