PUC won’t go lower on gas rates

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.

Witkoski said his requested decrease would have reduced natural gas rates by $4.71 a month, compared with the 90-cent drop in the commission’s initial decision.

“We are disappointed that the commission didn’t vote to lower the rates for customers during this unprecedented difficult economic time and during the winter months, when customers rely on natural gas for heating,” Witkoski said.


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