PUC offers farmers break on utility bills
The Public Utilities Commission is offering farmers a deal on their power bills if they cut back irrigation during peak daytime hours.
The regulations approved Friday allow irrigation customers of Sierra Pacific Power to buy electric power at the lowest rates the utility offers ” just 5.8 cents a kilowatt hour.
That compares with 12 cents a kilowatt hour for residential customers.
To qualify for the low rate, farms must agree that, beginning next year, they will cease pumping between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in July and August. That is when Sierra Pacific experiences its greatest draw on electric power and, consequently, its highest costs of generating or purchasing electricity.
Farmers will have special time-of-use electric meters on their pumps in order to qualify for the discount. The new equipment will also allow those pumps to be shut down remotely in the event of an emergency.
PUC Chairman Jo Ann Kelly said the new arrangement not only provides affordable electric power for farmers and ranchers, but benefits the Sierra Pacific system by reducing peak load demand.