Sierra Pacific asks for rate hike |

Sierra Pacific asks for rate hike

Sierra Pacific Power Co. on Monday asked state regulators for a 9.7 percent increase in electric rates.

The total requested by the company is actually for a 13.1 percent increase in rates, but company President Jeff Ceccarelli said the filing asks that part of the increase be deferred until 2005.

If approved, the typical residential bill would increase by $8.65 a month effective June 1, 2004.

“We’ve worked hard to come up with a way to lessen the impact on customers, plus insure the company is financially capable of continuing to supply the necessary electricity for our rapidly growing area,” he said. “By delaying the implementation of a portion of our (general rate increase) request, we can lessen the impact on our customers and further stabilize rates.”

He said as part of the utility’s efforts to make sure it can provide proper service to Northern Nevada, Sierra Pacific has invested more than $200 million in plant and infrastructure in the past two years. The most recent project is a transmission line being built in eastern Nevada that will bring an additional 255 megawatts of power to Sierra Pacific. That line is supposed to be in operation by next spring.

“Northern Nevada remains one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation,” he said. “We have connected approximately 10,000 new electric customers in each of the past two years.”

Sierra Pacific also has another rate filing due to the state’s Public Utilities Commission in January, but Ceccarelli said at this point he doesn’t expect to ask for any additional increases at that time.

Hearings on the rate increase will be scheduled during the spring of 2004.