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April 25, 2014

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Legislative bill on power rates already stirring controversy

A bill involving electric rates has been introduced in the Nevada Senate, and the state Bureau of Consumer Protection says it is an effort by NV Energy to avoid lowering its rates.

The Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee on Thursday sponsored SB93 to extend from three years to five years the time an electric company would be required to file a general rate case with the state Public Utilities Commission.

A general rate case occurs so a utility can justify its rates in covering operating expenses — or seek a rate increase.

Committee Chairman Kelvin Atkinson, D-Las Vegas, said electric companies feel they should not be required to submit a rate case every three years if there are no changes.

NV Energy declined comment and said a hearing will be held next week to present its testimony.

But Dan Jacobsen, technical manager of the consumer bureau, said this is another attempt by NV Energy to dodge reducing its rates.

"This is not a surprise," Jacobsen said about the bill. He said NV Energy officials have been bragging to investors about their savings.

NV Energy announced Thursday that its quarterly dividend to investors was increased by 12 percent. Investors will receive a cash dividend of 19 cents per share on March 20 compared with the 17 cents paid on Dec. 19.

NV Energy serves an estimated 2.4 million customers in Northern and Southern Nevada.

The utility must submit its general rate adjustment in June 2014 under the current law.

There have been several rate increases approved by the PUC for the utility. But Jacobsen said the scheduled hearings will show the rates should go down.

He said the utility is telling Wall Street investors that the installation of the smart meters will save from $12 million to $25 million. In addition, he said the lower interest rates should result on reduced profits.

"The companies want to keep these savings for another two years," he said.

He said the utility is raising the dividends to investors while failing to reduce rates to consumers,

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  1. They should be required to file every TWO years, if not every year.

  2. The people out here are told one lie after another.

    We're told they install something to count kilowatt useage without a guy coming by to look and it will reduce our rates.

    It's done. But still the rates go up. Because of some lame excuse they look for.

    Then we're told to conserve.

    We do that.

    Then they complain, and the rates go up because people aren't using enough.

    Then you use enough, they STILL raise the rates.

    Then you try to comply, but NV Energy sells electricity to California. Then charges us for it. If they lose money.

    WHEN DO THE LITTLE PEOPLE OUT HERE GET A FRIGGIN' BREAK!

    After all this garbage, I am really tempted to rip my smart meter off of the wall outside and jam it up the nearest NV Energy worker's foogeenie sideways.

  3. NV Energy will continue this kind of activity until the ratepayers en mass start getting involved in a campaign to end this behavior.

    For starters, the public should overload state legislators with letters and phone calls related to not passing SB93.

    Follow that up with the same effort demanding repealing the law that gives NV Energy the right to charge back to the ratepayers any loss of profit from energy conservation efforts.

    That was an insane measure for the legislature to pass, but it is typical of what happens when the ratepayers don't rise up in protest and follow up in the voting booth.

    The arrogance of NV Energy is not tolerable.