NV Energy stands by meter plan

Power utility NV Energy on Tuesday defended plans for a digital-meter system that could change how ratepayers track and pay for power use.

State officials, consumer advocates and interest groups quizzed utility executives on the goals, financing and consumer protections involved in Advanced Service Delivery, a smart-meter initiative the company aims to begin rolling out in August.

The state Public Utilities Commission would need to approve NV Energy’s proposal, and this week’s hearings are crafted to hash out the plan’s benefits and drawbacks alike.

Gary Smith, NV Energy’s project director of smart technologies, called Advanced Service Delivery "the foundational infrastructure for the smart grid" — a project that will integrate the utility’s meters and back-office communications to set the stage for programs ranging from consumption management to electric-vehicle charging plans to variable pricing based on peak use.

Through Advanced Service Delivery, NV Energy would swap out conventional electric meters with "smart" meters capable of back-and-forth communication with the utility. NV Energy would spend $301 million to launch the program; the company has $138 million in federal stimulus money to help defray the cost. The rest could come from higher power rates if the commission approves.

Smith testified that Advanced Service Delivery would save NV Energy $35.6 million a year in operating costs once the utility has deployed all 1.45 million meters in 2012. Nearly 60 percent of those savings would come from work force reductions, and would happen in areas including meter-reading, field services and load research. The initiative would also create billing efficiencies, and improved information about power consumption would let NV Energy defer capital investments, Smith said.

Staffers and companies intervening with concerns about the proposal asked Smith wide-ranging questions Tuesday, including whether NV Energy will use Advanced Service Delivery to boost the number of disconnections for nonpayment and whether the implementation of Advanced Service Delivery will have "offramps" to exit the program if its launch goes awry. They also wanted to know about the potential for cost overruns, and they seemed especially concerned that they might not be able to revisit the "prudence" of Advanced Service Delivery after its rollout gets under way.

On the potential for more disconnections, Smith said NV Energy would not change its cutoff policies post-program. But Advanced Service Delivery will prevent scheduled disconnections from failing to happen because of labor shortages. Right now, if the utility can’t schedule a worker to physically cut service, the nonpaying customer gets cycled back into the system, with fresh disconnection notices going out the next month. Advanced Service Delivery would prevent that, and net an increase of about 20,000 nonpayment terminations a year, Smith said.

State regulations allow power cutoffs when a consumer is $50 behind on payments. NV Energy’s internal policies call for a $75 delinquency threshold. In practice, though, because of labor shortages, NV Energy doesn’t begin disconnection processes until a customer is $100 past due. Advanced Service Delivery would allow the company to hold to its $75 line, Smith said.

Dave Norris, a senior deputy attorney general with the state Bureau of Consumer Protection, seemed concerned that NV Energy was asking the commission to find its investment in Advanced Service Delivery "prudent" now and going forward, and that would prevent state officials from examining whether the program was wise in retrospect if the initiative later proves problematic for consumers.

A two-year trial to test "dynamic" pricing, or variable power charges based on energy use in peak hours from 3 to 7 p.m. in the summer, would begin in January 2012. Consumers would have to opt into the program to participate, and must stay in the trial for at least a year once they’ve signed up. NV Energy plans to guarantee bills with a credit, if necessary, at the end of a year. The utility hopes to persuade 18,000 ratepayers to sign up for the test, though the trial would proceed if participation runs lower.

Norris also noted the possibility that Advanced Service Delivery could actually result in higher energy use overall, as consumers who shifted their consumption away from peak hours more than made up for their curtailing by increasing consumption during cheaper use periods.

Smith acknowledged that customers who are unable to shift use away from peak hours could see a noticeable increase in their bills when compared with current flat-use rates, though he stressed that they’d "take a benefit" from cheaper, nonpeak rates.

Laura Walsh, NV Energy’s manager of regulatory pricing and economic analysis, said any switch from peak use to nonpeak use should result in lower bills for consumers.

"Compared to doing nothing (to shift use), they would save money," Walsh said. Changing use times "is what you would hope they would do," she added. "It’s what prices incent them to do. Over time, we would expect to see some changes to the load shape and what the peak looks like. We’d hope to broaden and flatten that peak."

Walsh said little data exist on whether seniors and other residential users can actually shift air-conditioning and other power uses to lower-price periods. The dynamic-pricing trial phase should help NV Energy pinpoint just how flexible residential users can be in their energy use.

Public Utilities Commissioner Alaina Burtenshaw asked why the utility wanted to pursue peak pricing.

Smith said utility officials believed peak-use and pricing information would help ratepayers "take ownership" of their power use, and understanding how peak pricing might work in a market with hot-weather extremes "is something that would be very useful for the community."

"It would give customers options and choices," he said.

After the dynamic-pricing trial concludes, NV Energy would use its experiences with the initiative to shape optional time-of-use programs, Walsh said.

Dynamic pricing wouldn’t raise or lower NV Energy’s revenue, company officials testified.

Advanced Service Delivery hearings are scheduled to continue at 9 a.m. today inside the commission’s office at 101 Convention Center Drive.

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

Holiday Parade Lights Up Downtown Summerlin
Holiday parade lights up Downtown Summerlin every Friday and Saturday night through Dec. 22.
Nevada's solar industry on the rebound
In 2015, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted in favor of a new tariff structure that reduced net energy metering buyback rates and increased fix fees for residential solar customers.
Apartment complexes selling fast in Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ apartment vacancy rate is among the smallest in the country, and rents are climbing faster than the national average. (LVRJ)
Aristocrat Opens $45M Campus In Summerlin
Aristocrat Technologies Chairman Ian Blackburne discusses the company's growth. (LVRJ)
Sunrise Hospital celebrates 60 years
Sunrise Hospital opened its doors to patients on Dec. 15, 1958. Employees of more than 35 years celebrated at a luncheon Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. Jessie Bekker/ Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Maya Cinemas to open soon in North Las Vegas
Moctesuma Esparza, CEO of Maya Cinemas, talks about the newest location in North Las Vegas, set to open Jan. 10. The aim of the theatre chain is to serve latino-centric, underserved communities.
Holiday shopping and returns make this the busiest time of year for UPS
The UPS Las Vegas South facility is the company's busiest pre-load operation in the country, and it's even busier this time of year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Primm’s outlet mall has fallen on hard times
The mall, attached to Primm Valley Resort, opened in 1998. Back then, it was a “textbook, perfect outlet-center location." But now, Primm’s outlet mall has fallen on hard times. Las Vegas Boulevard has endless shopping spots. And there are other outlet malls that don’t require a hefty drive to the state line. Its mortgage-holder foreclosed on the mall in late September.
Miltary auction at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers
Humvees, ammo cans, construction equipment, field gear and more is on the auction block Friday and Saturday at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. About 10,000 items in all are for sale in what GovPlanet bills as the largest auction of its kind.
Las Vegas residents discuss avoiding holiday scams
Las Vegas residents discuss their donation habits and how they avoid giving money to scam charities during the holiday season. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory ahead of economic impact expectations
The Tesla Gigafactory’s economic impact on Nevada has exceeded projections, bringing in more than 7,000 jobs. In 2014, Nevada agreed to give the automotive and energy company $1.3 billion in tax abatements. In return, Tesla promised to meet certain requirements in areas like employment and capital investment. As of June, Tesla has brought in a total of $6.05 billion in capital investment, surpassing the $4.95 billion projection. The original contract gave the company until 2024 to make $3.5 billion in capital investments in Nevada. Derek Armstrong, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Land sales near the Las Vegas Raiders stadium
Land around the Las Vegas stadium site has been selling for high prices. A few months before the stadium’s groundbreaking, Global Trust Group acquired a 2.5-acre parcel just north of the stadium site. The property sold for $7.25 million, or $2.9 million an acre. Osprey Real Estate Capital and Huntington Hotel Group acquired a 2-acre industrial site just west of the stadium site in late November. The property sold for $6.5 million, or $3.15 million per acre. That's roughly 12 times the average price of land in the valley this year as tracked by Colliers International.
T-Mobile Tech Experience Truck parks in Toshiba Plaza at T-Mobile Arena
The Tech Experience Truck is a state-of-the-art showroom on wheels, with demonstrations that put connected drones, smart cities, augmented/virtual reality and smart tracking. The exhibit shows new wireless technology – including 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Steve Siegel, CEO of the Siegel Group, speaks about helping families and other needy residents
Steve Siegel, CEO of the Siegel Group, speaks about helping families and other needy residents to keep them from teetering off into homelessness. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vrgas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Crowds camp out for Chick-fil-A opening
Dozens of customers camped out 24 hours ahead of the 6 a.m. Thursday opening of the new Chick-fil-A on Rainbow Blvd.
Cheapest listings for sale in Las Vegas
Listed for $39,990, 585 S. Royal Crest Circle, Unit #9 is one of the cheapest homes currently listed for sale in Las Vegas. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Terry Miller discusses Convention Center
Project Manager Terry Miller explains the phases of Convention Center construction.
Zappos treats their team members on Cyber Monday
Zappos rolls out a variety of food, drinks and special activities for all team members at their downtown Las Vegas headquarters for Cyber Monday. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Team Hybrid at the 2019-Model Motor Trend International Auto Show
Among the companies showing off the 2019 model cars, Team Hybrid shows off its modified cars. Las Vegas resident David David talks about the team, which is in its ninth year exhibiting at the show, and his show car.
Black Friday Shoppers at downtown Summerlin and at the Arsenal
Black Friday shoppers at downtown Summerlin and at the Arsenal. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfYe
Black Friday shopping in Las Vegas
Black Friday sale shopers express their shopping experience. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Friday at Fry's
Shoppers line up for deals early on Black Friday at Fry's Electronics on Las Vegas Boulevard South. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Friday shoppers at Best Buy at 5 am
Black Friday shoppers at Best Buy at 5 am on Nov. 23. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Black Friday - 1am Closing Time
Quiet night.
Black Friday - 12:30am - Best Buy Arroyo Crossing
Sam's Town Holiday Lighting Ceremony
On Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, Mystic Falls Park opened with its annual tree lighting ceremony, hosted by Boyd Gaming Executive Chairman Bill Boyd. The attraction features a Winter Wonderland theme and holiday-inspired laser light show, available daily Nov. 23 to Jan. 1. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What Is A Smart City?
George Karayannis, vice president of CityNow, Panasonic’s smart-city arm, explains. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Walmart uses virtual reality to train employees
Walmart Academy Facilitator demonstrates the VR training program being used by Walmart stores across the country.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like