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September 1, 2014

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Energy dispute at Creech AFB has commission’s full attention

Creech Air Force Base

The state Public Utilities Commission decided Tuesday to delve further into the complaint that Valley Electric Association is illegally supplying power to Creech Air Force Base in Southern Nevada.

The commission unanimously denied the petition of Valley Electric to dismiss the complaint filed by NV Energy that the cooperative is infringing on its territory at Indian Springs.

The fight between the two electric companies will go to a hearing before the commission. NV Energy has supplied power to two electric facilities operated by the Department of Defense that then sends the electricity to various points on the base.

The federal Defense Logistics Agency Energy in September 2012 awarded the power contract to Valley Electric of Pahrump, a nonprofit group owned by consumers.

Valley Electric maintains that this is a federal contract and is outside the jurisdiction of the state regulatory body.

The PUC, in an opinion authored by Commissioner David Noble, said there are facts still to be decided in the dispute. Noble also criticized the Defense Logistics Agency Energy for failing to supply information to NV Energy as required.

Noble said, “This gamesmanship by DLA Energy has prevented Nevada from being able to verify these facts.”

The PUC said it must determine whether Valley Electric comes under the state jurisdiction.

Earlier this month, Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill that would have brought Valley Electric under the PUC's authority. He said Assembly Bill 391 did 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."

A hearing date will be set later.

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