Utilities commission denies bid to review gas-rate decision

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada denied a petition asking the agency to reconsider its recent decision in the Southwest Gas rate case.

Nevada consumer advocate Eric Witkoski had urged the commission to reconsider its Oct. 28 decision to lower Southwest Gas rates by 2.5 percent, saying that commissioners could have lowered rates by as much as 8.3 percent if they considered fresher natural-gas pricing data.

But commissioners said staffers didn’t have an opportunity to evaluate the newest figures for their “reasonableness and prudence.” The commission found that setting rates based on gas costs that they’ll investigate later violates Nevada law, because it could result in imposing unreasonable rates on consumers.

Southwest Gas, which offered the additional pricing statistics, filed statements supporting Witkoski’s position.

The commission voted 2-1 to deny the petition, with Chairman Sam Thompson casting the dissenting vote.

Sands chief sees rebound for LV meeting business in 2011

Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson said Las Vegas convention bookings will recover in 2011 after collapsing during the recession.

“It’s coming back in force, as each quarter goes by there’s more and more demand,” Adelson said. “There’s no question about it” rebounding in 2010 “with even greater recovery in 2011,” the billionaire said.

The largest U.S. gambling and meeting market entered a two-year slump in January 2008 as companies canceled conferences and meetings. Las Vegas convention attendance tumbled 26 percent in the 10 months through October, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Adelson, 76, forecasts that corporate group bookings will account for 40 percent to 45 percent of Las Vegas Sands’ available Las Vegas room nights in 2011, similar to the 2007 peak.

Adelson said he’s “not worried” about competition from MGM Mirage and Dubai World’s $8.5 billion CityCenter project.

“I wish CityCenter big success,” Adelson said. “I personally would not have built CityCenter, because you narrow your universe of customers a little too much with high-end, supermodern, contemporary buildings.”

Ex-Pinnacle chief didn’t violate Missouri law, regulators rule

Missouri gaming regulators determined Wednesday that former Pinnacle Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Lee did not violate state law when he confronted a St. Louis County councilman last month.

Lee issued an apology and resigned from the Las Vegas-based casino operator after the confrontation, which followed the councilman’s support of a rezoning matter for a competing casino. He will be allowed to keep his Missouri gaming license.

The Missouri Highway Patrol conducted the investigation. Lee will have to pay the $16,800 costs for the inquiry.

Pinnacle is building River City, a $357 million casino complex in suburban St. Louis, which is expected to open in March. Pinnacle also owns the President Casino and Lumiere Place casino complex in downtown St. Louis.


SEC officials back broader disclosure on executive pay

Federal regulators voted Wednesday to require companies to reveal more information about how they pay their executives amid a public outcry over compensation.

The Securities and Exchange Commission voted 4-to-1 to expand the disclosure requirements for public companies.

Company policies that encouraged excessive risk-taking and rewarded executives for delivering short-term profits were blamed for fueling the financial crisis.

The commission also changed a formula that critics say allowed companies to understate how much their senior executives are paid. At issue is how public companies report stock options and stock awards in regulatory filings. Such awards often make up most of top executives’ pay.


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