RENO, NV - The news that NV Energy is being sold to a company owned by Warren Buffett is being greeted with applause by some including the state's most powerful political figure.
"When he says Nevada's a good bet. That's Warren Buffet. It's a good bet.," Senator Harry Reid said Thursday.
Senator Reid says the sale will be good for the state and the company.
"NV Energy will no longer be undercapitalized. They've struggled over the years because they don't have the money to do all the things they want to do. That's not going to be the case anymore."
NV Energy CEO Michael Yackira agrees.
"Their ability to raise capital. Their ability to go out and borrow money at a lower interest rate should pass right along to our customers' bills over time," says Yackira.
That extra financial muscle should also make it possible for the company to move further, quicker into renewables. While encouraging others to develop geothermal energy and buying their output, the company has not yet jumped in with big development projects of its own. That could change.
"They've agreed to do that," notes Reid.. "They're going to phase out their two coal fired plants that are left and they're going to bring in some cleaner energy."
The sale comes as bill helping the company do that transition appears headed for passage at the legislature.
While the company has been quick to say the sale to Buffett won't affect your power bill, the bill might.
It has raised concerns among consumer groups, lawmakers and the Public Utilities Commission that it might mean higher rates being paid by Nevada customers.
"One of the reasons I've been a little critical of the Public Utilities Commission in recent days," says Reid, " is the one who controls energy production in the state of Nevada should be concerned not only with bottom line costs, but what it does to our grand children, our children. Coal is bad for you."
Reid points to the impact of a southern Nevada NV Energy plant has had on the Moapa Paiute Reservation downwind. Critics say the plant has been responsible for a number of health issues there.
But with SB123 likely to pass out of the legislature in the next few days and Warren Buffett poised to help bring more renewable energy on line in Nevada, Reid says he's satisfied.
"I'm not going to be on their case in the future. They've agreed to step up and get rid of the coal plants more quickly and bring in more renewable energy."
Reid made these remarks during an extended interview with KOLO 8 News Now's Ed Pearce. The entire interview will air this Sunday at 11 a.m. on "It's Not Just Politics."