Hearing Set on Northern Nevada Utility Rate Increase Plan

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A March 25 consumer session is scheduled in Reno on a $111 million rate increase request that would boost electricity bills of typical Sierra Pacific Power Co. residential customers by nearly 16 percent.

The state Public Utilities Commission is seeking comment on the plan, which would take effect next July, to recover costs stemming from a new, gas-fired generating plant at Sierra's Tracy plant. Of the $111 million, $75 million is attributed to that 541-megawatt plant.

The overall increase for Sierra's business and residential customers in northern Nevada is just under 13 percent. For typical residential customers using 750 kilowatt hours of electricity, monthly bills would increase 15.6 percent, from about $98 to $113.

Michael Yakira, chief executive officer of Sierra's parent Sierra Pacific Resources, has said the new power plant will give the Reno-based utility enough generation to meet more than 90 percent of customers' electricity demand.

Yakira added that the goal is to reduce dependence on outside energy suppliers, which should help stabilize energy prices for customers in the long run.

While the proposal would mean higher rates, Sierra also said previously approved fuel and purchased power costs the company has
been recovering from customers will expire in July and reduce electric rates by approximately $40 million.


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