Daily Sparks Tribune
rate increase hearing draws angry crowd
Albright, Tribune Staff
SPARKS (Feb. 4, 2002)
More than 200 people mostly critical of rate hikes proposed by Sierra
Pacific Power Co. turned out for a consumer session Monday at Mendive
Middle School in Sparks.
Sierra Pacific filed its most recent request with the Public Utilities
Commission on Friday. That request is for an increase in general revenues
of $28 million and $205 million in deferred energy costs.
The PUC held the consumer session to allow the public to comment on
the proposed rate increase.
The rate increase is opposed
by the Nevada Utility Reform Alliance, a citizens' group that meets
regularly in the home of longtime Sparks resident Rosalie
Beasley who, 20 years ago, helped create the state's Consumer
"I am willing to forfeit my stock and let Sierra Pacific go bankrupt
and turn it into a municipal-owned company," Beasley said to loud
applause from the audience.
"That way we could get rid of the stockholders with their rate
of return and some of the underhanded dealings Sierra Pacific has undergone."
According to Beasley, the Legislature passed laws that let fallen energy
giant Enron "get their hooks into our power source." She said
the only companies that survived the power blackouts and soaring power
rates of last year were the municipal companies.
"It's time we really did some major overhaul instead of Band-Aid
remedies," Beasley said.
"We could own this company for what it's costing us in raises (for
Sierra Pacific executives) the last few years and what it will cost
us in years to come."
Sierra Pacific CEO Jeff Ceccarelli, who attended the consumer
session, was asked what his salary is, but declined to say. Instead,
he told the audience to look the information up on the company's
However, salary information for Ceccarelli is not available on the site,
although it shows that Walt Higgins, head of Sierra Pacific Resources
the company that owns Sierra Pacific Power Co. and Las Vegas-based
Nevada Power Company makes at least $1.4 million a year in salary
Nevada Power Company is asking for a 27 percent rate hike of $922 million.
According to PUC spokeswoman Cynthia
Messina, hundreds of outraged rate payers attended a consumer
session in Las Vegas last week to protest that request.
Sen. Joe Neal, D-N. Las
Vegas, who attended that meeting, pointed out that Nevada's power deregulation
bill was written by an Enron lobbyist. That bill and subsequent attempts
to repeal and then partially reinstate it lie at the root of the current
round of rate hike requests, Neal said.
In the north,
Sierra Pacific is requesting an overall increase of 9.9 percent in electric
rates to recover costs
for fuel and power purchased by the company last year.
According to Sierra Pacific, the proposed increase for residential customers
is 7.7 percent, but that figure would actually be lower when combined
with a 2.5 percent decrease the company proposed in November.
The company also filed a request to extend the recovery period over three
years. Sierra Pacific estimates that an average residential customer using
715 kilowatt hours of electricity each month would see an increase of
about $4 monthly.
All comments become part of the permanent record and will be considered
by the PUC when in holds a formal hearing on the request on April 8.
© 2002 Daily Sparks Tribune, used by permission.
TEXT OF ROSALIE BEASLEY'S REMARKS
TO THE COMMISSION
"I am willing to forfeit my
stock and let Sierra Pacific go bankrupt and turn it into a municipal-owned
power company. That way, we could get rid of the stockholders with their
rate of return and some of the underhanded dealings Sierra Pacific has
"Our legislators passed laws that let Enron get their hooks into our power
source and we all know what Carson is by now. The only companies that
survived the blackouts and soaring power rates were the municipal companies.
"It's time we really did some major overhaul instead of Band-Aid remedies.
We could own this company for what it's costing us in raises the last
few years and what it will cost us in years to come."
Like Ms. Beasley in 1980, an
activist starts a protest petition
ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING Monday, March 4, 6:00 p.m., Round Table
Pizza, Spanish Springs north of Sparks. Call Wanda Wright, (775) 327-4677.
list of locations at which to sign the protest petition
|A WORD OF CAUTION:
Some well-intentioned people have been proceeding under the impression
that with enough signatures, this petition can stop Sierra Pacific/Nevada
Power's current round of rate hikes. Alas, that's not the case.
For the most part, only expert evidence presented on the record at
a formal Public Utilities Commission rate hearing can be given any
weight in a ratemaking proceeding. That's why ratepayers fund the
consumer advocate's office.
The petitioning work is nonetheless very important, as it will give
officials up for re-election this year and the commission an indication
of public outrage and perhaps motivation to do something for consumers.
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