Las Vegas Sun

March 31, 2015

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Sandoval’s veto benefits small Nevada energy provider

Gov. Brian Sandoval has vetoed a bill that would have brought the 45,000 member Valley Electric Association of Pahrump under the authority of the state Public Utilities Commission that sets rates and service territories.

Currently, cooperative electric companies are owned by the members who make the decisions to benefit their customers without approval of the state agency.

Sandoval said it was unnecessary to bring cooperatives under the wing of the PUC. In addition, he said Assembly Bill 391 does not clearly define the regulations the PUC could enact "presenting the potential for costly regulation and legal battles that would jeopardize many rural economies and the viability of rural electric cooperative associations."

Valley Electric and NV Energy recently had a dispute that the cooperative was infringing on the territory of the Las Vegas electric company by offering electric-distribution service to Creech Air Force Base.

And the federal government decided to sign a contract with Valley Electric to serve all of the Nevada National Security Site. NV Energy had supplied electricity to part of the site, formerly known as the Nevada Test Site.

Valley Electric says that while Creech was outside its service territory, federal military installations have sovereignty over state law.

Thomas Husted, CEO of Valley Electric, praised the governor in a press release and said his association is "bringing millions of dollars of new revenue into Nevada, working to develop and export Nevada-based renewable energy to other markets."

The bill would have given the PUC authority over Valley Electric if it offered energy outside its geographic area and if it supplied energy to a nonmember.

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