Study: Nevada Electric Rates Rise Fastest

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Electricity rates for Nevada homeowners have increased 60 percent over the past 13 years, more than those in any other state, a federal agency found.

The 60.3 percent rise reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration represented the average of rate increases at Nevada's investor-owned utilities, city utilities such as Boulder City, and cooperatives such as Valley Electric Association of Pahrump.

At the state's largest utility, Nevada Power Co. of Las Vegas, the average rate per kilowatt hour for single-family residential customers jumped 74 percent since 1990, according to the state Public Utilities Commission.

Rates averaged 8.23 cents per kilowatt hour in May this year, up from 4.74 cents in April 1990.

The average monthly bill single-family, residential Nevada Power customers in the Las Vegas area rose to $107.88 from $62.75 over that time period, according to the PUC.

The average monthly bill figures include a customer hookup fee that rose to $5 a month from $3.50 in 1990.

Power rates in Nevada increased faster than in any other state, but California and New York have higher rates, said David Chairez, a spokesman for the Nevada PUC.

In terms of the percentage increase, Hawaii was second to Nevada, followed by Vermont, Oregon, Maine, and Washington state. California ranked 12th.

Arizona residential power customers experienced the biggest decrease of any state, 11.8 percent since June 1990. The average residential rates in Arizona fell to 7.91 cents a kilowatt hour this year from 8.97 cents in 1990.

The statewide average residential rate for electricity in Nevada was 9.72 cents a kilowatt hour in April this year, up from 6.06 in April 1990, Chairez said. The survey showed that California residential customers paid 12.33 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity in April.

Utah residents paid an average of 6.83 cents a kilowatt hour; Washington, 6.24; Idaho residents, 6.71; Wyoming, 6.88; Oregon, 6.93; Montana, 7.36; Colorado, 7.87; and New Mexico 8.78.

Nevada Power, serving southern Nevada, obtains 60 percent of its peak demand from power suppliers and 40 percent from its own generation plants, said Michael Yackira, executive vice president of parent company Sierra Pacific Resources of Reno.

Yackira said the Western power crisis of 2000 and 2001 drove up Nevada Power's rates.

But Tim Hay, state consumer advocate, blamed most of the rate increases on improper company management since the merger of Reno-based Sierra Pacific Power and Las Vegas-based-Nevada Power in 1999.

The merged company, Sierra Pacific Resources, also focused on a failed effort to buy Portland General Electric from Enron Corp. for $3 billion, Hay said.