Sierra Pacific wins gas, electric increases

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission Thursday approved both gas and electric rate increases for Sierra Pacific Power Co.

The 6.5 percent increase in electric rates will affect all western Nevada customers including those in Carson City and Douglas County. The increase will add about $5.55 a month to the average residential monthly bill. The average monthly bill will be about $92.

But the big increase was to natural gas rates - a 24.4 percent jump that will cost the typical customer $15.56 a month. That will raise the average residential gas bill to about $79 a month.

Southwest Gas, which supplies gas to western and Northern Nevada outside the Reno area - including Carson City and Douglas County - has a similar gas increase application before the PUC and is also expected to win approval.

The increases are caused by direct increases in the cost Sierra Pacific and Southwest must pay to purchase natural gas. Electric prices are affected because gas is used to generate most of Sierra Pacific's electric power.

"In the past few months, natural gas prices throughout the United States have reached their highest levels in history, double of what was predicted just one year ago," said Mary Simmons, Sierra Pacific vice president for external affairs.

The federal department of energy has predicted natural gas prices could be up to 60 percent higher this winter than last year. Simmons said Sierra Pacific's increases are expected to stay below that because they signed contracts for gas before the recent rise in gas costs.

The increases become effective Tuesday.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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