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NV Energy wants to raise rates for residential customers

Updated June 6, 2019 - 5:32 pm

Southern Nevada customers might pay more on their NV Energy bills starting in October.

According to a news release from the Nevada Public Utilities Commission, NV Energy is asking for permission to increase rates for residential customers in Southern Nevada by 0.42 percent, about 47 cents each month.

“It’s very small in the grand scheme of things,” said Kevin O’Donnell, a financial analyst with North Carolina-based Nova Energy Consultants.

Payback

The rate increase application is part of NV Energy’s annual deferred energy rate adjustment applications.

NV Energy sends in such applications so the PUC can make sure fuel and purchased power costs — the cost to generate electricity at power plants and the cost to buy power off the wholesale market — for the previous year were prudent.

“It’s the cost they incurred for buying power, for getting electricity to Southern Nevada,” said Ernest Figueroa, a consumer advocate with the state attorney general’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The annual filing also seeks changes to mandated public policy charges NV Energy collects for renewable and energy efficiency programs.

NV Energy spokeswoman Jennifer Schuricht said the utility is asking to raise rates for Southern Nevada residential ratepayers because of an increase in the energy efficiency program rate, which covers the cost of programs that help consumers reduce energy consumption, like discounts for LED lightbulbs and heating rebates.

“Even with this rate change, customer bills will still be lower than they were a decade ago,” Schuricht said by email. She said the company is committed to keeping rates low the next 10 years and will “file for a $100 million rate cut in 2020.” 

Residential ratepayers in Northern Nevada are not subject to the rate increase because NV Energy files separate applications for its northern and southern utilities, Schuricht said.

Impact of raise

Figueroa said the bureau is still investigating NV Energy’s application, but a 47 cent increase on the average monthly bill is “not out of the ordinary.”

Rose McKinney-James, a former commissioner for the Nevada Public Utilities Commission, said it’s unfortunate the rate increase has ties to renewable energy programs.

“We encourage the utility to supply programs that promote conservation, and it’s bittersweet to see increases tied to those savings,” she said. But “I think the benefits in the long-term outweigh this modest (rate) increase.”

The 47 cent increase applies to the average ratepayer, but O’Donnell pointed out that some demographics — like older residents who spend more time at home — can expect to see a higher increase.

“It’s going to vary by customer,” he said.

The commission will need to approve NV Energy’s proposed increase. A hearing on the applications will be held Aug. 13.

Consumer session

Ratepayers can make public comments on the applications Tuesday at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the commission’s Las Vegas office. Those in Northern Nevada can attend via video conference at the commission’s Carson City office. The PUC will broadcast a live video of the sessions on its website.

NV Energy representatives will be at the Las Vegas office to answer questions with members of the Nevada attorney general’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and the commission’s regulatory operations staff. Speakers will have five minutes to discuss NV Energy’s applications.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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