Consumer Advocate protests Sierra Pacific electric hike

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Consumer Advocate Tim Hay says Sierra Pacific Power's request to raise gas rates Oct. 15 should be denied because the utility's $40.5 million increase is actually a $63 million rate hike.

The request for an increase to cover rising costs the utility must pay for natural gas was filed in June and stated that the "total annualized revenue increase" is $40.5 million.

The consumer protection bureau and the public as well as other parties were all given and relied on that figure.

But, according to Hay's motion to block the increase, company officials admitted at a Sept. 24 pre-hearing conference that the total change is actually $63 million. The $22.4 million difference is an increase in the Base Purchase Gas Rate which Hay says Sierra Pacific didn't explain in its original filing.

Hay said that is a total rate increase at 81 percent if the PUC allows it.

He called on the commission to deny the Oct. 15 interim approval to raise rates until after hearings on the full rate increase and order the rate case re-noticed to all interested parties and the public.

He said the company's rates should be held where they are without an interim increase until full hearings on the proposed increase are held. But he said that could be completed by Dec. 1.

Hay said his office "believes that, in a time of extraordinary rate increases, the public before being asked to pay such extraordinary high rates, needs to have confidence that the regulators have reviewed those rates, that any necessary adjustments have been made and the resulting rates customers are paying are just and reasonable."


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