Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 | 10:42 a.m.
A major roadblock has been removed that will permit the sale of NV Energy to billionaire Warren Buffett to go forward.
A settlement has been reached between NV Energy, MidAmerican Energy (owned by Buffet), the state Bureau of Consumer Protection and the staff of the Public Utilities Commission that will benefit consumers in January.
The consumer bureau and the staff of the PUC both presented testimony earlier that the proposed purchase was not in the public interest unless changes were made to the sales agreement.
Dan Jacobsen, technical staff manager of the consumer bureau, said the proposed $5.6 billion purchase was $2 billion over the stock price. He said NV Energy wanted consumers to pay off half of that and the utility assume the other half.
However, under the agreement, Witkoski said, “Customers will not pay any of the $2 billion acquisition premium or the transaction and transition costs.”
If accepted by the PUC, the settlement will mean a one-time $13 credit on the bill in January for homeowners both in Las Vegas and Northern Nevada.
The agreement was submitted today to the utilities commission. Hearings will start Nov. 18.
State Consumer Advocate Eric Witkoski said the agreement “means customers will be protected from unreasonable costs or risks resulting from MidAmerican.”
A spokeswoman for NV Energy said it supports the agreement and it “is in the best interest of our customers.”
The agreement also provides that the option of customers to withdraw from the “smart meter” program will become permanent. It had been a temporary measure. And the rates for cancelling smart meters will not be raised for six years.
While this removes some of the major objections to the sale, other parties may still challenge the sale. The Sierra Club has asked the PUC to ensure NV Energy in Las Vegas to take steps to improve on air quality. Others want to ensure more efficient energy programs.