PUC: Reducing charge won’t cut average electric bill

Public Utilities Commission officials say Wednesday’s decision to scale back the increase in the Basic Service Charge for electric service won’t change the fact that the average monthly bill is going up by nearly $3.

The commission, on a motion by member Rebecca Wagner, decided to tie the basic rate to what it actually costs NV Energy to provide that service. That will reduce the $17.50 monthly rate set by the PUC in December to $15.25.

At the same time, December’s vote reduced the kilowatt-hour charge for electric service by 3.1 percent.

While no mention of this was made during Wednesday’s hearing, the kilowatt-hour rate and Basic Service Charge are tied together. That means when the commission reduced the BSC by $2.25 a month, it automatically pushed the kilowatt rate back up.

“The Basic Service Charge and kilowatt-hour charge work in concert,” said spokesman Peter Kostes. “If you lower one, the other must increase.”

That means the average residential electric customer will still see an overall increase of just under $3 a month.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection petitioned the PUC to reconsider its December decision, saying the increase from $9.50 to $17.50 was just too much all at once, especially for those on a low or fixed income.

Consumers who testified Wednesday objected to the increase, saying that when the utility began installing smart meters, consumers were led to believe that would reduce the BSC because the utility would no longer need nearly as many meter readers.


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