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December 20, 2014

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Nevada Territory

Power bills rising to pay for energy efficiency programs

Updated Monday, May 23, 2011 | 6:36 p.m.

What the PUC decision means:

  • An average 3.4 percent increase for Southern Nevada customers: $5.29 a month
  • An average of 1.6 percent increase for Northern Nevada customers: $1.47 a month

Southern Nevada energy rates will rise about 3.4 percent, or about $5.29 a month on the average residential home bill, to pay for energy efficiency programs and the lost sales related to those efforts for NV Energy, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada ruled today.

The rate increase was the result of legislation passed in 2009 that allow the company to recover costs of energy efficiency programs the company implements, such as subsidizing light bulbs and replacing old refrigerators and air conditioners, and the resulting energy sales it would have made without those programs.

The three-member Public Utilities Commission of Nevada unanimously approved the increase.

NV Energy had sought a 5 percent rate increase in Southern Nevada. In Northern and most of rural Nevada, it had sought a 2.5 percent increase.

Northern Nevadans will see a 1.6 percent increase, or an average residential monthly payment of $1.47. (The lesser amount is because Northern Nevada recently had a regularly scheduled rate increase and has different energy efficiency programs.)

John Owens, with NV Energy, said he did not believe the company would challenge the ruling.

The increase in rates will be effective on July 1, but will be partly offset for Southern Nevadans by falling natural gas prices and more efficient energy production, Owens said.

Most of the increase is used to pay for the cost of programs such as subsidizing light bulbs, he said.

With Nevada having among the highest power rates in the West, consumer advocates have expressed concern about this rate case, piled on top of other pending legislation being considered by the 2011 Legislature.

“I think the commission took a very thorough look at this,” said Dan Jacobsen, with the Bureau of Consumer Protection. He said he was “pleased with a lot of things in the order” but his office had opposed the company reaching back to 2008 to calculate some lost sales. The legislation passed in 2009, and the commission adopted regulations in August 2010.

A group of ratepayers, some of whom are tied to a union fight with NV Energy related to retirement benefits, showed up at the meeting, jointly held in Las Vegas and Carson City, and gave testimony opposing the rate increase.

Rita Weisshaar, a retired NV Energy worker, said “Any rate increase is going to hurt. We’re so beat up in Nevada right now.”

Alaina Burtenshaw, chairwoman of the PUC, said citizens should talk to legislators. “At the end of the day, they’re the ones who make the laws we have to follow,” she said.

If the commission took no action, law would require that the utility’s request take effect, she said.

Rebecca Wagner, a commissioner, said at the beginning of the meeting that she understood consumers were “maxed out” on their energy bills. Still, the PUC had to balance the interests of consumers and NV Energy shareholders.

She worried that media reports had “demonized the concept” of energy efficiency, which is among the most cost-effective ways to reduce the need for the construction of new power plants.

NV Energy is scheduled to apply for a general rate increase on June 1. It has also filed an application to build more than 500 miles of transmission lines in the Western part of the state. Owens said it was unclear how those applications would affect consumers.

Additionally, Assembly Bill 150, unanimously passed by the Legislature this session and signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, expands the definition of energy efficiency programs the utility can use. Owens said the company would look at the costs and benefits of additional programs, likely next year.

UPDATED at 5:23 p.m.

NV Energy said it has calculated the impact of the quarterly fuel and purchase power adjustment. The change will be a 1.7 percent decrease in southern Nevada and 3.28 percent decrease in northern Nevada, effective July 1. The total impact with the energy efficiency rate increase will be an estimated 1.7 percent increase in southern Nevada and a 1.5 percent rate decrease in northern Nevada, according to NV Energy.

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  1. This is going to have companies busting down the door to come to Nevada! NOT!

    The logic of this rate increase simply doesn't exist. What's worse we are dependent upon our elected officials to put responsible people in the PUC. That won't happen until we elect responsible officials.

  2. This is a result of our legislation passing b.s. bills. Thanks dems for all the fine work! Who's on the side of big companies now?

  3. So the more we attempt to conserve, the more our rates go up? How much conservation can we afford?

  4. Guaranteed profits...
    Courtesy of "the State".
    Nice!

    "Go Green all you want; but if our profits go down, YOUR rates go up"!

    In fact there's a LAW IN NEVADA THAT SAYS SO!
    Just like there's a LAW IN NEVADA that says you can't collect taxes on MINING... or RAISE TAXES period... without the express, written permission of a bunch of CLOWNS...(that's why Nevada's CREDIT RATING has slipped with MOODY'S)... Clown's that are dead set against anything that isn't approved in advance BY LARGE CORPORATE DONORS and their LOBBYISTS...

  5. It's amazing how this new rate increase for Southern Nevada not only targets us, but also coincides with a time just before the horrid June-September desert heat cycle where air conditioners have to be left on automatic day and night.

    Like the other commenters, I notice the NV Energy B.S. response of why they are doing this. Basically, they are recouping losses not from their own coffers, but soak it to the middle class here even more. And even the fact that they probably aren't losing money. They just want more profits so they can rake it in real quick before Southern Nevada goes belly up and they can take that money and run somewhere else.

    But there's hope though.

    We can all go outside the State Capitol Building in Carson City and wait around for Governor Sandoval to come out and hand out doughnuts and pizza or somethin'.....

    That'll surely make up for our added sacrifice, huh?

  6. I think we should subsidize more green energy things for them so we can save gas/oil for someone else and cost us all more money. Getting paid for profits you never made is a new slant..How about the city just allow windmills and solar panels on any house who wants to out them up.

  7. So, because I went and replaced every light bulb in my home, kept my A/C at 87 during the summer, and froze my rear off in the winter to do my part to conserve energy, the fat cat mobsters at NV Energy, who by the way keep most of their office lights on 24/7, want to raise my electric bill? amazing.... time go solar panels, and get off the grid...

  8. I HAVE CUT MY ELECTRIC BILL IN HALF. In some months I've cut it by 60%. I am a bachelor. I live in a 950 square foot two bedroom apartment. I found the circuit box that contains the electric circuit breakers for my apartment. When I leave for work in the morning I turn OFF all the circuit breakers except for the refrigerator. When I come home in the evening I turn them all back ON. If I leave for an extended period of time on the weekend I do the same. My electric bill has gone from $60 - $70 per month to $30 - $35 per month. This should also work for bachelorettes and couples who work the same shift or are away from home for extended periods of time.

  9. This is just unbelievable. I keep thinking I'm gonna wake up and this nightmare of living in Nevada will be over and we'll be back in NY where this kind of crap doesn't happen. The NY State Attorney General is now going after the big banks responsible for the mortgage 'crisis' Think that will ever happen here?

  10. THIS IS OBAMA'S STANCE WITH GAS PRICES !! EVERYONE MUST DRIVE FUEL EFFICIENT CARS AND WE MUST RAISE GAS PRICES.

    WHERE ARE THEY LEADING US?

  11. We can't get anyone to pass a tax increase on those who can afford it to help our schools but Nevada Power can get a rate increase that the big guys (casinos) don't have to pay because they have their own power sources. Where is the justice in this?

  12. Amazing... they offer rebates to bait you into buying new, more energy efficient a/c units, cfl light bulbs and more efficient pool pumps, then raise rates to cover their rebate scheme... sounds like a mob run bait and switch ponzi scheme...

  13. Bob makes some good points on evaporative cooling, but the Drawbacks to Evaporative Cooling are:

    They depend on dry outside air to operate effectively. This is usually not a problem for most of California, which has a desert or Mediterranean climate. On hot, muggy days in the summer, however, swamp coolers will blow hot, humid, soggy air into the house. If the humidity stays high for several days, the moist pads that make the evaporative cooler work can begin to smell, and the musty odor can be blown into the house.

    Unfortunately for parts of the California desert and for much of the desert Southwest, July and August constitute the rainy season, when monsoon storms sweep north from Baja California. With high temperatures accompanied by high humidity, these months can be the least favorable for swamp coolers.

    Evaporative cooling requires water to keep pads wet - a consideration in some areas, especially in drought years. Water consumption can run from three to 15 gallons a day, depending on the size of the swamp cooler and whether or not the water is collected and pumped through the pads more than once. In some areas, discarded water from the unit can be an environmental concern.

  14. Are the big boys at NV Energy taking a pay cut? What kind of bonuses are they getting this year?
    That's why they need more money!

  15. http://people.forbes.com/profile/michael...
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20110519/us_a...

    Per the information I found (see above) poor Michael Yackira only had a base salary of just below $800,000, but with all the other compensation, actually made over $5 million.
    You think maybe that's why they needed a rate hike?