Electric rates to go up again

On the heels of increases that took effect just one month ago, Sierra Pacific Power Co. this week applied for another 8.6 percent increase in electric rates.

Utility officials said, however, the "deferred energy filing" isn't profit. It's to make up for the amount Sierra Pacific had to pay over and above approved rates for electric power during the past year.

Mary Simmons, vice president of external affairs, said the utility buys about half the electric power it supplies to Northern Nevada. With natural gas prices skyrocketing this summer and fall, those suppliers charged Sierra Pacific a total of $83.5 million more than the utility was allowed to pass on to its customers this past year.

Under Nevada law, the utility is allowed to recoup that amount.

The increase will raise the average electric bill in western Nevada $8.17 a month to a total of $103.24.

But the law applies in reverse as well.

If actual electric costs to utilities are less than approved charges, the utility must reduce its rates at year's end.

The increase follows a 6.5 percent increase in electricity rates which took effect Nov. 1. The Public Utility Commission approved the November increase to cover Sierra Pacific's expected electricity costs for the coming year.

-- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.


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