Members of the Interim Legislative Committee on Energy voted Wednesday to move forward with a potential constitutional amendment broadening existing, narrow provisions on fuel taxes to instead allow for those tax dollars to fund the broader category of “transportation infrastructure.”
The state’s Public Utilities Commission made the decision during its meeting Wednesday, resulting in the largest ever one-time bill credit given by the utility to its customers. Commissioners wrote in the published order that the utility should return the overearnings collected over the last two years to customers as soon as practical, in part to help “alleviate some of the financial pressures caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic.”
The three members of the commission — which oversees and regulates utility businesses in the state — voted unanimously during their Wednesday meeting to launch the investigation, an initial step that will allow regulators to take a more active role in overseeing supply adequacy, after electric demand over the past week have far outstripped projections.
The Commission has scheduled a discussion on opening the investigation docket for its Wednesday meeting, which is described as an “investigation regarding resource adequacy and planning to ensure that electric utilities’ supply of energy is sufficient to satisfy demands and maintain reliable, continuous service.”
“This really is an unprecedented event on the Western energy grid, and we are seeing unprecedented demand on the Western energy grid right now,” Cannon said in an interview. “You talk about 100-year flood events, these kinds of unprecedented events that occur, I would put the demand that we’ve seen over the last five days in that category.”
Now, more than a decade later, the utility has proposed another major transmission line upgrade. Dubbed “Greenlink Nevada,” the estimated $2 billion transmission project would upgrade existing lines between Ely and western Nevada (centered in Yerrington) and a new line between Las Vegas and Yerrington, forming a transmission line triangle inside the state.
Sisolak announced in a press release on Monday that he is appointing Tammy Cordova, the PUC’s chief counsel for regulatory operations staff, to the position of commissioner on the regulatory body that oversees operations of electric, gas and other utility companies in the state.
The request to lower electric rates was made in the utility company’s general rate case application filed on June 1 and makes good on a year-long promise by the state’s primary electric utility to reduce its revenue requirement — the calculated amount of profit its allowed to make on the sale of electricity.
Although the new tariff is couched in economic recovery language — saying it will allow large businesses and government entities to “put people back to work and can provide critical services to communities during this time of recovery” — the pricing plan has been in the works for more than a year.
The proposed rate increases would mean the average monthly bill for a Southern Nevada single-family residence would go up by an estimated 8.65 percent, or a $3.71 hike in their monthly gas bill. The increase would be less for the company’s Northern Nevada customers, with an estimated 3.19 percent increase or roughly $2.47 increase in monthly gas bills.
Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette sought to reassure Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto on Tuesday that the Department of Energy plans to seek alternatives to storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, but he stopped short of backing an effort to change the law designating the site for a national repository.
The contract, which was approved without comment as part of the North Las Vegas City Council’s consent agenda during a meeting last Wednesday, is the latest in an ever-growing string of contracts that sees NV Energy give direct cash payments to government entities in return for sticking with the utility as a customer and promising to apply for a future fixed-rate, renewable energy based pricing program.
The proposed contract and pricing system were given a thumbs up from the state’s Public Utilities Commission in a draft order released last month and was officially approved on a 2-0 vote during the commission’s Wednesday meeting.
According to a draft order published on Friday and up for approval at the Public Utility Commission’s Wednesday meeting, the utility essentially ignored a 2017 state law and subsequent commission orders requiring it to put aside $10 million in energy storage investments, instead using the funds to pump up subsidy payments for solar installations. The fine, which will be deposited in the state’s general budgetary fund, is the maximum amount allowed under Nevada law.
Signing the executive order was the most recent step for Sisolak — the state’s first Democratic governor in 20 years — in aligning Nevada with national and worldwide efforts to combat the effects of climate change, including signing up the state in March to meet the emission reduction targets as part of the U.S. Climate Alliance.