NV Energy files rate cases; no change in residential rates

Two Monday filings by local power utility NV Energy shouldn't affect your power bill.

In the first filing, the company told the state Public Utilities Commission that it owes consumers $98.7 million in fuel costs that it overcollected. It seeks to refund ratepayers that money, plus reset charges and rates related to renewable-energy development and programs. But its second filing calls for offsetting those differences by seeking $95.8 million in revenue the utilities commission pulled out of the company's 2008 general rate case.

The filings involve two separate types of rates. The first application entails the cost of purchased power and fuel NV Energy buys to run its plants. The utility must pass those expenses, which make up about 60 percent of a power bill, directly to customers without collecting profit. Because the cost of the natural gas that powers NV Energy's generating stations has fallen since the last case that set fuel rates, the company overcollected by $98.7 million.

The second application deals with revenue left over from the utility's general rate case, which state law requires the company to file every three years. General rates compose the other 40 percent of an electric bill, and cover operating expenses such as maintenance, labor costs, debt interest, taxes and returns for investors. In NV Energy's last general rate case, filed in December 2008 and decided in June, the Public Utilities Commission cut $95.8 million out of the utility's requested revenue increase to blunt the effect on consumers. That deferred revenue sits in a regulatory-asset account, where it's collecting interest, until NV Energy's next general rate case rolls around in 2011.

NV Energy said taking the deferred revenue now and balancing it against the fuel-cost refund would eliminate interest expenses that would pile up between now and its 2011 general rate case. It could also mean a smaller change in general rates later.

Between the two filings, residential ratepayers would see no difference in their power bills, while nonresidential electric users would see immediate rate relief of 3.2 percent.

The Public Utilities Commission must schedule a public- comment session before it decides. NV Energy has asked for the rates to take effect Oct. 1.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512.