IFC questions Colorado River Commission electric power sales

Electricity from Hoover Dam will continue to be sold at cost to the Southern Nevada Water Authority despite concerns that may be treading on Nevada Power Co.'s turf.

Legislators of the Interim Finance Committee on Monday gave the Colorado River Commission permission to buy and resell $27 million worth of electric power before the end of the year.

The commission buys and sells electric power at cost to the Southern Nevada Water Authority to power pumps that supply water throughout the Las Vegas Valley. It needs authority to increase the dollar amount of power it buys because the cost of electric power is rising.

Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, questioned the practice. "I'm concerned that we're not doing something to Nevada Power and the ratepayers," he said.

But Douglas Beatty of the commission said if they don't sell the power to the water authority, it will have to go through a retail seller like Nevada Power, which could cost a lot more money. And those costs would be passed on to every water customer in the area.

Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, said that would "in the long run, work to the detriment of the people in this state." He said the governor has already "negotiated a backroom deal" allowing frozen electric rates to increase and that stopping the Colorado River Commission from supplying the water authority would just cost consumers more money.

Committee Chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, called a halt to the discussion, saying, "I don't want to debate deregulation over this item."

Assemblywoman Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, suggested holding up the decision until the 2001 Legislature opens and it can be discussed there. But Beatty said that would force the Water Authority to find another supplier because they need that electric power now.

"It seems prudent to allow them to continue in business for the remainder of this year," said Sen. Ray Rawson, R-Las Vegas.

The majority of the committee agreed, with only Cegavske voting no.

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