Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 | 12:22 p.m.
CARSON CITY — The Sierra Club says a proposed takeover of NV Energy threatens progress toward a cleaner environment and could result in higher rates.
MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. reached a deal in late May to buy NV Energy for $23.75 per share, or $5.6 billion cash.
In a petition signed by its attorney Gloria Smith, the Sierra Club asked the state Public Utilities Commission for permission to intervene in the case and provide expert witnesses at hearings.
“The proposed merger with MidAmerican threatens to put at risk the gains made by Nevada toward a clean and coal free future,” the petition says.
MidAmerican is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which is owned by billionaire Warren Buffet.
PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of MidAmerican, would be a sister company of NV Energy and has the largest coal generation fleet in the West, Smith said.
She said PacifiCorp, since being acquired by MidAmerican, raised its rates to customers substantially. In Oregon, consumer rates skyrocketed 60 percent, according to the Sierra Club.
It said the interests of Sierra Club members may be harmed if the Public Utilities Commission does not ensure that MidAmerican commits to maintaining clean-air goals made in Nevada.
The group noted it intervened in the state hearing to close the Reid-Gardner coal-fired energy plant in Southern Nevada.
Another environmental group, Nevadans for Clean Affordable Reliable Energy, also requested permission to intervene, saying it has “a direct and substantial interest in the potential benefits for an expanded market for renewable energy.”
In its petition, the group cited pre-filed testimony that MidAmerican is committed to developing renewable energy.
The union representing NV Energy electrical workers have also asked to take part in future hearings.
The International Brotherhood of Electric Workers said the merger could “have a substantial, obvious and direct effect on the livelihoods and working conditions” for its members.
The application of MidAmerican was filed in July with the PUC. In its advance testimony, the company said there could be savings for customers and it could provide expert advice on switching to renewable energy sources.
The PUC has tentatively set a hearing for Dec. 2.