State PUC Considering $25 Summer Nevada Power Rate Increase

State regulators are considering a request to let Nevada Power Co. raise electricity rates for the typical southern Nevada residential customer almost $25 per month in summer months beginning June 1.

The Public Utilities Commission is expected Wednesday to consider a recommendation by commission Chairman Don Soderberg to slightly reduce a request from Nevada Power parent company Sierra Pacific Resources for a 13 percent increase.

The three-member commission could adjust the size of Soderberg's
recommendation, which would cut the increase to about 11.5 percent,
according to a Tuesday report by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

That would raise the typical summer residential bill for a customer using 2,000 kilowatt hours of electricity from $214.78 to $239.48.

In the average month, when electricity use is less, residential customers' bills would increase by $15.70 to $152.19, officials said.

A residential customer charge, which is collected regardless of the amount of power used, would increase from $6 to $8 per month.

State consumer advocate Eric Witkoski said he was disappointed by the proposed increase, and said he hoped it could be lowered.

A spokesman for Las Vegas-based Nevada Power declined comment.

Analysts said the 11.5 percent represented an estimate of the effect a general rate increase covering utility profits and expenses for debt, operations, maintenance and administration, along with a deferred energy rate adjustment reflecting changes in the cost of purchased power and fuel.

It also reflects a settlement between Nevada Power and the state on a 2002 rate case and on rate changes to compensate Nevada Power for the costs of settling power purchase disputes with wholesale suppliers including Enron Corp.

The rates don't reflect the planned $3.8 billion cost of the Ely Energy Center, a giant coal-fired power plant and related transmission line in White Pine County. Some of those costs are expected to affect the next general rate case, which would take effect in 2009.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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