More News

Transmission corridors face another challenge

SALES TAX REFUND:
Clark County chastised in tax dispute
State panel alleges officials breached confidentiality

Consumer group urges utilities not to accept payments through payday loan sharks

GOVERNMENT VS. THE PEOPLE: Nevada Tax Commission files brief with Supremes saying new state law prohibiting secret deals such as that forgiving $40 million in Nevada Power/SPP taxes, can be discussed in private and a cosmetic vote taken in public

Associated Press: Utility Deregulation a Dismal Failure

Gov. Gibbons pimps for more polluting power

AFL-CIO threatens suit over Solargenix use of foreign workers on state-subsidized 64mw power plant
PUC allows SPP-NP off the hook on alternative energy requirements

Lyon County wants landlords responsible for utility bills

The untold story of Nevada's first consumer advocate bill

Environmentalists let into Ely power plant lawsuit

Company seeks input on Ely power plant
Claims Nevada utilities stole its design
Las Vegas Review-Journal 8-2-2006

Wind energy confab held in Reno July 26-27 2006
Nevada Observer 8-1-2006

Proposed Ely power plant draws concerns

Plan to help pay power bills gains steam

2000-2004 NEWS

Ousted advocate delivers a last blow for consumers on his way out. Bueno!

GOP AG replaces Nevada consumer advocate with more pliable PUC member

If you sell cheap, you are cheap

Conflicts of interest between lawmakers and utilities

Nevada ratepayers face a fixed fight

Money for prudence and the kicks for free

Consumer Advocate — Nevada Power deserves zero, not $1 billion

Advocate makes Nevada consumer case

Utilities prevented Nevada consumer advocate office for decades

SPP/NP and Enron

SPP/NP CEO Higgins calls consumer advocate a liar...
Then kicks out official

SPR quite profitable

Declares 20-cent per share dividend

Sparks fly in Sparks — More than 220 give SPP and PUC an earful

Sierra Pacific CEO refuses to disclose salary and misleads ratepayers

SPP CEO made over
$1 million in 1999


Longtime
activist calls for ratepayer takeover of Sierra Pacific/ Nevada Power

Full text of Rosalie Beasley's comments before Nevada PUC

Sen. Joe Neal accuses Nevada Power of conspiracy with Enron

Pension scamology — the smoking guns of Enron

Petition started, northern Nevada hearings scheduled

Latest list of protest petition locations

Rate hike would squeeze
So. Nevada economy

Insult to injury to impudence — yet another rate hike filed

SPP rate hike roundup

PUC member profiles

LV Sun columnist Jeff German: Power co. zaps the little guy

Consumer advocate says cut rate request by $700 million

$1 BILLION BITE — Sierra Pacific/Nevada Power demands largest rate hikes in state history

Carson City editorial — PUC not doing its job

Nevada Utility Reform Alliance blasts state regulators

Consumers complain about 54% hike on top of 35% hike

Statewide power plant construction roundup

FIRST-EVER ROLLING BLACKOUTS BLACKJACK LAS VEGAS

Rich utility sold off power, causing LV blackout

Mea Maxima Culpa — Nevada Power tries to explain it all away

Consumer advocate calls for warning ratepayers — Casinos were not asked to cut back

Consumer advocate — Blackouts could have been avoided

Nevada Power admits failure to warn, notify officials

Consumer advocate blasts utility resource plan

55% Sierra Pacific natural gas hike for Nevada

24% gas hike for SPP California customers

Governor cedes air quality control to Las Vegas

Reno Gazette-Journal legislative roundup -- Hay warns, Townsend gushes

Consumer Advocate opposes AB 661

Neal dismantles Townsend in AB 661 floor fight. (Go to this page, then use your find key for 661. The exchange is just past halfway down.)

Townsend & Guinn sell out Nevada ratepayers

Neal fights for consumers against Townsend and big biz

Casinos and mines win deregulation vote

Senate kills low income help

SPP un-breaks $5 million promise for low income customers

661: Nevada's Mark of the Beast

High Noon -- AB 661 fight

Activist Abby Johnson: Nevada needs renewables

Las Vegas blackouts possible

Dudley Do-Right & Friends -- Carson City Cartoon Characters Continue Capers

Pundit Ralston: Dereg ain't dead, gets reintroduced soon

Cleaned up AB 369 to re-regulate utilities facing critical vote

Columnist Ward: public power for S. Nevada?

Sen. Townsend: Assembly Majority Leader Buckley disses me

Publicly owned Colorado River power opposed

Bill to allow Colorado River Commission to sell power to southern Nevada governments advances

Nevada Power contradicts its governor/lobbyist

Bill exclusively deregulates casinos and mining

Governor shills for gambling and mining privileges

Regulators hold noses, go back to the future

Nevada Energy News Roundup

PUC orders SPP disclosure

NURAy veteran testifies as belated hearings finally open

Sierra Pacific Power granted largest rate increase in Nevada history without a hearing --

State consumer advocate says rate increase illegal

Decision based on SPP press releases

Consumer advocate sues to stop rate hike

Consumer advocate withdraws legal challenge

Las Vegas Review-Journal page one story

Reno Gazette-Journal

Rate hikes prove Sen. Joe Neal right again, Las Vegas editors wrong, as usual

Neal: Deregulation won't drop prices.

How Steve Wynn started Nevada deregulation

Hidden costs -- lawmakers help utilities shift taxation onto residences

The Nevada Energy Crisis Shuck-Jive Hustle Hall of Fame

1980 WARNING IGNORED -- Kilowatts convert conservative cowboys to socialism

Nevada utility rates based on quicksand for consumers

AFL-CIO, IBEW oppose sale of Nevada power plants

A major State of Nevada study blames proliferation of low-wage jobs for driving state and local governments to raise taxes.

Visionary Nevada consumer advocate Orland T. Outland dies at 77

Las Vegas Sun search

Las Vegas Review-Journal search

DO SOMETHING ABOUT ALL THIS. CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR:
HERE'S HOW



NevadaLabor.com Site Map at bottom

PUC general counsel axed after pseudonymic tweet showing prejudice against rooftop solar industry
Sean Whaley / Las Vegas Review-Journal 6-20-2016

Nevada utilities continually consume consumers
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 5-31-2016 Sparks Tribune

The single best exposés of how monopolist Warren Buffet's lobbyists and their governor-client killed the consumer solar industry, bringing worldwide chagrin to the shameless state of Nevada / by Dennis Myers

Who’s subsidizing whom? Net meterers may be supporting other customers
Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review 6-2-2016

Warren Buffett perpetuates mendacious net metering propaganda
Reno News & Review 5-5-2016

Net metering: The backlash continues
Reno News & Review 1-28-2016

Cover Story: Fighting the future
Reno News & Review 1-21-2016


Fire Meters in a Long, Hot Summer
As with the bright, shining lies of the Washoe and Clark County School Districts' graduation rates, the Reno Gazette-Journal is again two years behind the Barbwire (11 October 2012) regarding NVEnergy's combustible "smart meters." It ain't news unless the legit media find it first, right?
Updated 2-10-2015

Federal judge refuses to stop Nevada fracking
By Scott Sonner / Associated Press 9-27-2014

Labor Day 2014: Red, white and screwed
Go frack yourself: American Petroleum Institute greases the wheels for fracking Nevada
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the Sparks Tribune / 8-28-2014

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission, NVEnergy and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto's consumer advocate have caved to corporate welfare queen Apple's demand for secret proceedings.
[BARBWIRE 11-28-2013 / Updated 1-4-2014]

Applecart Tipping?
Critics claim Apple/NVEnergy partnership will put ratepayers at risk
By Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review 9-19-2013

Enron II: Nevada's Battle-Born Toxic Event
Indigence and indigestion from ingestion of Warren Buffett's buffet
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 6-6-2013 Sparks Tribune

Bad News & Worse News Dept.—>
Mega-investor Warren Buffet to acquire NVEnergy
Las Vegas Review-Journal / 5-29-2013

Former Nevada Consumer Advocate Jon Wellinghoff to leave FERC chairmanship
Las Vegas Review-Journal / 5-29-2013

Public shut out of utility legislation, putting ratepayers at risk
Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review / 5-23-2013

OSHA: Dead 29 year-old NVE worker's life worth only a $43,000 fine
Las Vegas Review-Journal / 3-26-2013

Touch a Smart Meter, Go to Jail
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 10-11-2012 Daily Sparks Tribune

Janet MacDonald: The beautiful face of honor
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 1-29-2012 Daily Sparks Tribune

NVEnergy deserves rate cut, not hike
Hugh Jackson / LV CityLife / 12-1-2011

Dr. Strangelove and Sen. Don the Dumberer
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the Daily Sparks Tribune 7-10-2011

Shame on NV Energy Asks NVE Board Chair Philip Satre
to Release Internal Report on Ensign-Yackira Scandal

IBEW 1245 / 6-28-2011

Hall of famers give the boss the finger
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 6-19-2011 Daily Sparks Tribune

Sylvester Kelley, gutsy retiree who battled NV Energy over medical care, dead at 87

Charlie Sheen & the Price of Gasoline
ENERGY, PART DEUX: PUC sides with electrical workers union, orders full NV Energy staffing investigation / Update7-31-2011: Responses filed
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 3-6-2011 Daily Sparks Tribune

Wisconsin GOP governor wants to sell off power plants with no bids
Paul Krugman / New York Times / 2-24-2011

Green building tax break just another casino/developer subsidy from taxpayers, and a huge one
Revenge for small 2003 gross gambling tax hike

BARBWIRE
BREAKING NEWS EXCLUSIVE

Still
Sierra Pacific Powerful
No matter whether they call it Reddi Kilowatt, Nevada Power or NV Energy, it's just bright new branding for the same old monopoly rape and pillage — the public knows it, the latest poll proves it
Time for another initiative petition after 21 years?
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 1-16-2011 Daily Sparks Tribune
Updated 7-31-2011

Power plays
Electrical workers picket NVEnergy for first time ever
Strike looms

Money-saving smart meters make a comeback after 30 years
Barbwire / Sparks Tribune 1-6-2008

German and Kanigher — Tax panel slammed for secrecy

Nevada Power to cough up $60 million in latest settlement

MONOPOLY IS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU'RE SORRY:
Nevada power rates rising faster than cable TV prices

Nevada regulators roll over and play dead
Las Vegas CityLife cover story 6-22-2007

WHY IS GASOLINE SO HIGH? READ THE BARBWIRE OILOGOPOLY INVESTIGATIVE SERIES
Now in its 11th year


Sierra Pacific's Piñon Pine plant, right, 1995 (Don Dondero photo)

BARBWIRE: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
Salivation, salvation and damnation all rolled into one

Daily Sparks Tribune 1-13-2008

AP: Failed alt-energy plant costs millions
Carson City Nevada Appeal 12-3-2007

Reno native Jon Wellinghoff sworn in at Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Lawyer was state government's first consumer advocate in 1981
Reno Gazette-Journal 8-1-2006
(Story no longer available at their penny-pinching archive)

Update: Senate confirms Wellinghoff to full five-year term
Las Vegas Review-Journal 12-21-2007

Editor's Note: Many of the news links on this site are from Nevada dailies. In late 2006, the Reno Gannett-Journal began nuking much of its archive. If you encounter any broken links, I encourage you to contact them and send me a copy. On the one hand, they want to build their web traffic in order to increase the price of ads. On the other hand, they are killing that very traffic. Far be it from me to reconcile the Dilbert-style motivations of an outfit for which a 38 percent net profit is not enough. If you can explain it, please enlighten me. (Before you e-mail me anything complicated, please read this bulletin — AB)

Who will pay $20 million in Enron utility costs?
Company says customers should ante up; official disagrees
Las Vegas Review-Journal 7-17-2007

Court rules that Nevada Power must eat more of Enronesque overcharge
Southern Nevada rates to rise by 10 percent
Las Vegas Review-Journal 7-21-2006

Insider criticizes PUC/Nevada Power settlement

1981 REDUX —Future Test Year is Back
BARBWIRE: Red, White & Screwed, Part Deux
Daily Sparks Tribune 6-11-2006

Electric rate hike approved
Reno Gazette-Journal 4-13-2006
Dissident PUC Commissioner Carl Linvill was removed soon therafter
by Gov. Dudley Do-Right

BLOODILY UPDATED ON 3-15-2006
BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH
Didn't we Schwartzian whiz kids fix this in Nevada in 1981?
PHANTOM TAX MAKES A BIG COMEBACK — Utilities STILL collect millions from customers for taxes they never pay
New York Times 3-15-2006, free registration may be required
BANDIDOS OF A FEATHER: Warren Buffet and Henry "Barbarians at the Gate" Kravis rape and pillage profits from ratepayers
(See the Larry Gelbart-James Garner HBO farce starring Jonathan Pryce as Kravis.)

Sempra Energy halts Gerlach, Nevada, coal-fired plant study
Reno Gazette-Journal 3-8-2006
Sempra puts Gerlach project up for sale

RENO FOLLOWS SPARKS: Power bill fee hike planned
Even as Northern Nevadans' gas and electricity bills have spiked during the winter months, Reno officials are considering a change that would more than double the fees they charge Sierra Pacific Power Co. customers.
Reno Gazette-Journal 2-16-2006
5-15-2006 UPDATE

Sparks eyes hike in Sierra Pacific franchise fee
BY ANGELA POTTER

Sparks is considering an increase in Sierra Pacific Power Company's franchise fee from 2 percent to 5 percent of the company's revenue. The fee increase, which would happen incrementally, would ultimately raise power bills by approximately $4.86 per month....
FROM THE 2-7-2006 DAILY SPARKS TRIBUNE

Senator pushes inquiry into $40mm So. Cal Edison sales tax rebate
Las Vegas Sun 2-7-2006


2003 UTILITY RE-DEREGULATION INDIGESTION

Nevada consumer advocate defends budget for hiring consultants
Associated Press 10-4-2003

Attorney general should lay off trying to torpedo consumer advocate
Las Vegas Sun Editorial 10-3-2003

Consumer advocate to appeal rate hike
Las Vegas Review-Journal 8-8-2003

LEGISLATIVE LOOPHOLE — Utilities, cable and trash companies
can pass through all taxes; even bill way up front


Park Place/Caesars and others serve notice of leaving Nevada Power

Consumer advocate shocked — Soderberg and McIntire
overrule Escobar-Chanos and give the store away to NP

2001 LEGISLATURE: Re-deregulated damage

Smoking gun SPP/NP admits paying $799 million
above fair market prices for energy

Gov. Kenny Guinn

CARSON CITY-- AB 661, the bill to deregulate large power users such as mines and casinos, was the last measure passed by the Nevada State Senate at three minutes before 12M PDT on June 4. It will skyrocket small consumer rates. The laudable opposition: Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, and Las Vegas Sens. Ann O'Connell (R), William O'Donnell (R), Dina Titus (D) and Valerie Wiener (D). It passed the lower house after the constitutional adjournment deadline. A special remedial session called by the guv failed to resolve matters so the gambling-industrial complexcalled in the Supremes to produce a major hit. For updates, watch this Energy Crisis War Room and the Barbwire.

CASINOS RULE SUPREME, WIN AS USUAL

Gamblers and miners demand that Nevada Supreme Court impose AB 661

Surprise, surprise -- Casinos may get unfair advantage, citizens say

Even insiders worry about repercussions of opt-out measure

Obscenities for two obscene corporate welfare queens

NORTHERN NEVADA'S MOST-CENSORED STORY. For 10 days, the Reno Gannett-Journal failed to inform its readers of juice lawyer/lobbyist Harvey Whittemore's outrageous action filed with the Nevada Supreme Court on June 15. Finally on June 26, that obscenely profitable corporate pulpistry printed the story of a June 25 hearing on the case. Here it is, along with the June 25 Associated Press report. RGJ reporter Jennifer Crowe's story says the legal action was filed "last week." This is a dead giveaway that the story was ready to print in the week after the filing, but the paper held it until the following week. Apparently, it ain't news until they say it's news, dammit.

Assembly Bill 661, which deregulates electricity for the likes of casinos and mines, failed to pass the 2001 legislature. Whittemore wants the court to order legislative lawyers to send the unpassed bill to Gov. Dudley Do-Right, who says he will sign it. The bill will skyrocket rates for residential and small business ratepayers.

POWER PLAYS FROM COURTSIDE

Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial: Court should kill AB 661

Gamblers and miners file answer to legislative counsel

JULY 5 ORAL ARGUMENTS -- AB 661 & AB 94 court fights spark constitutional power plays

GET DOWN ON THE SIERRA PACIFIC POWER STRUCTURE. The Nevada Utility Reform Alliance (NURAy) meets monthly at the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), 1101 Riverside Drive in Reno. For info, contact Charles Laws or Thomas Wilson. More from the NURAyders, below

MESSAGES FROM THE MAHATMA

The godfather of Nevada consumer protection returns from long ago

Dave Schwartz predicted deregulatory disaster in 1978

"The market structure of the electric utility industry is well suited to promulgate oligopolistic coordination...given the homogeneity of power supply and the fact that prices and earnings are easily monitored. Therefore, the usual pressures to erode oligopolistic collusion are missing. In addition, new entrants will find it to their advantage to accommodate to the existing institutional arrangements.


DAVID S. SCHWARTZ Ph.D.

"Nonetheless, the solution is not deregulation which would permit unregulated private monopolies in an unbridled manner to exploit the market. This would permit the private monopolist to maintain a position of dominance through price discrimination, cross-subsidization, entry foreclosure and the use of political power which would result in the type of abuses and distortions normally associated with the exercise of monopoly power." (Emphasis added, 1978*)

"Deregulation is a failure. To follow the path of California provides the danger of escalating rates and inadequate power supply...Why court unnecessary problems? If it isn't broke, why chance catastrophe?

"Regulation of public utilities at the state level has existed for approximately 100 years. It has been successful at providing stability to the utility as well as the ratepayer. The regulatory framework of cost-based rate of return regulation is equitable to both the utility and its consumers.

"The cost of service by customer class also eliminates rate discrimination. Continuing the current regulatory oversight will assure power supply." (Emphasis added, 2001**)

___________

Eminent economist David S. Schwartz, Ph.D., was the principal expert retained by then-Democrat and future-Sen. Randolph Townsend's, R-Reno, Coalition for Affordable Energy to lobby for 1981 consumer advocate legislation and to intervene in five Sierra Pacific/Nevada Power cases.

* "The Academic Practitioner in Public Utility Regulation," published by the National Regulatory Research Institute, Columbus, Ohio, September, 1980; from remarks by David S. Schwartz, Ph.D., at the 90th Convention of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), Las Vegas, Nevada, November, 1978. These remarks were read into the record of AB 661 by Andrew Barbano of the Nevada Utility Reform Alliance before the Nevada State Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor, 5-25-2001.

** "Outline of Presentation before (W. Virginia) House and Senate Judiciary Committees," 1-7-2001, by David S. Schwartz, Ph.D. Submitted for the record of AB 661 by Andrew Barbano of the Alliance before the Nevada State Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor, 5-25-2001.

UPDATE 9-25-2005: SCHWARTZ PRESCIENCE PROVEN AGAIN

11-30-2005: Schwartz helps Reno cable television consumers


NEVADA UTILITY RATEPAYERS ENDANGERED BY GAMBLING INDUSTRY- CONTROLLED STATE SENATE

In Nevada, the mark of the beast is 661

News and Commentary by Andrew Barbano

CARSON CITY, Nev. (June 1, 2001) — The Nevada State Senate will go into floor session at 10:30 a.m. PDT today and another heated battle over utility deregulation will headline the show.

Citizen-lobbyists for the Nevada Utility Reform Alliance (NURAy), a non-profit ratepayer organization, reported a curious scramble on the Senate floor yesterday.

During a break, Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn entered the floor and spoke with Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, who then apparently ordered Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, to take down a proposed amendment to Assembly Bill 661. The amendment reportedly would have revived Assembly Bill 349, a $10 million program to assist low income families pay energy bills. That bill failed to achieve the required two-thirds senate majority and thus died a few days ago.

Previous governors, sensitive to the constitutional separation powers, have long observed a tradition of rarely showing up in legislative halls. Democrat Mike O'Callaghan (1971-79), arguably the most popular and powerful governor of the 20th Century, would generally ask lawmakers to his office when he found meetings necessary.

The privilege of the senate floor has rarely been accorded. The most notorious recent example prior to yesterday occurred in 1991 when casino lobbyist Harvey Whittemore was allowed to address the senate to inform lawmakers of the terms of a new business license tax. Whittemore told the lawmakers that the gambling industry was giving itself a 25 percent "volume discount," a loophole enjoyed by no other business.

In a meeting with the Nevada Utility Reform Alliance on May 19, Sen. Townsend stated that he would support nothing opposed by Nevada Consumer Advocate Timothy Hay regarding AB 661. Nonetheless, the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor, which Townsend chairs, voted 7-0 to strip all consumer provisions from the bill, leaving only renewed deregulation of casinos, mines and other large utility users.

Townsend said Wednesday that he will try to reinstate some consumer provisions, such as a long overdue audit of Sierra Pacific/Nevada Power, in the conference committee process used to resolve differences between the assembly and senate. He also said that he would agree to a noticed, public meeting of the conference committee, rather than the closed-door methods such end-of-session negotiations usually employ.

Also on Wednesday, Hay sent a letter to all 21 senators opposing AB 661 as amended. In its current form, the bill "permits the large (and low cost) industrial users to leave the utility and forces the remaining, captive customers to pick up what easily could be increased system costs," Hay wrote.

Witnessing the senate floor fiasco firsthand, NURAy activist and retired reporter Thomas Wilson opined that Nevada government is controlled by a narrow oligarchy with one marginally redeeming trait: "They may be democratic among themselves," Wilson stated after observing the ugly scene in the upper chamber.

If Assembly Bill 661 passes in its current form, it will allow big users to drop out of the Nevada utility system, a situation similar to a landlord losing many of his renters with no way to replace them. The remaining tenants would thus be stuck with geometric increases to pay the landlord's mortgage and operating expenses.

Nevadans will likewise be forced to pay for the utilities' embedded or "sunk" or "stranded" costs. Ironically, Sen. Townsend's 1997 deregulation bill, repealed last month with the passage of AB 369, was supposed to have protected ratepayers against stranded costs. AB 661 does not. Unlike tenants, Nevada ratepayers cannot move to a new apartment house unless they leave the state entirely.

Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, told the Alliance at its March 17 meeting that Townsend's 1997 bill was written by an Enron lobbyist working out of Townsend's senate offices. Enron has since emerged as the most predatory of the Texas-based electricity producers. Enron Chairman Kenneth L. Lay was recently accused of threatening to use his influence with President Bush to block the reappointment of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Curtis Hebert, Jr., if Hebert did not endorse Enron's support of expanded deregulation. (New York Times, 5-25-2001, front page)

Lay recently attended a secret meeting to push influential California Republicans, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, to support preservation of the state's deregulated energy market. (San Francisco Chronicle, 5-26-2001)

UPDATE, 8-13-2003 — Mr. Schwarzenegger is scheduled to attend a charity event in Reno on Oct. 9, 2003, two days after the California special gubernatorial election. (The Gov-Elect did not show. Barbwire: California gives itself a boob job.)

Nevada is quickly becoming a power farm for California with as much as 10,000 megawatts planned to go online by 2004. The Silver State's air is generally so clean that new power plants can be built without violating federal standards.

A new plant is due to fire up east of Reno in Storey County this month. It has been built utilizing six turbines from Japan which were obsolete a decade ago. Where most utility plants have an expected life of 20 to 30 years, this one has been built to last two years, perhaps three at most.

Its sole purpose is to gouge Californians by offering power at peak load times at exorbitant prices. It sits like a patient predator, waiting to pounce if AB 661 places Nevada back on the path of California.

Be well. Raise hell.
________

Andrew Barbano's weekly column has originated in the Sparks, Nev., Tribune, since 1988. He is a 32-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com and Sen. Neal's website, JoeNeal.org. He managed future-Sen. Townsend's 1980 initiative petition campaign to establish the office of consumer advocacy; he lobbied alongside Mr. Townsend and Dr. Schwartz during the 1981 Nevada legislative session and coordinated intervention in five utility cases at the state and federal levels.

Activist comes out of retirement to preserve victories
of 20 years ago

Testimony of Rosalie Beasley before the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada

"Paying off a jackpot before the handle is pulled"
Carson City, Nevada, March 23, 2001

Mr. Chairman, members of the commission, my name is Rosalie Beasley. I am here today to quote that famous American Yogi Berra. This is deja vu all over again.

You see, I was here 21 years ago representing a group called Concerned Citizens. Today I am here representing the Nevada Utility Reform Alliance. Twenty-one years ago, I was employed and in good health but an active and concerned citizen.

Today, I am a senior citizen on a fixed income with a medical handicap and even more concerned by the flood of recent rate increases requested by Sierra Pacific Power Co. But most alarming is the apparent carte blanche approval of those increases by this Commission. Public statements from members of this Commission have asserted that an audit will be done after the fact to ensure that these increases were necessary. That is akin to paying off a jackpot before the handle is pulled.

Further, what assurances do we have that even the most objective auditor cannot help but be influenced by knowing that their findings can either validate their bosses or make them look like dupes?

Twenty-one years ago our activism and concern resulted in an initiative petition and the creation of the Office of the Consumer Advocate. Today, I am here to tell this Commission that the Nevada Utility Reform Alliance is on alert and has re-activated our grassroots coalition to support the consumer advocate in every way possible to fight these rate hikes and to ensure that this Public Utilities Commission does not roll back the clock 21 years and undo all of the hard-fought protections that were put in place for Nevada's citizens.

I appreciate the opportunity to be here today and to present this statement.
________

Retired casino dealer Rosalie Beasley was one of the mainstays of Townsend's 1980 initiative petition drive to establish Nevada's office of consumer advocacy. She lives in Sparks, Nevada, and is a founding director of NURAy.

UPDATE 2-29-2004 — Rosalie Beasley, 1923-2004: Nevadans lose their patron saint of power bills

ROSALIE REVISITED — Like Ms. Beasley in 1980, a Reno woman starts a protest petition


AVOID THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST

TESTIMONY OF THOMAS E. WILSON BEFORE
THE ASSEMBLY SELECT COMMITTEE ON ENERGY

Carson City, Nev., May 3, 2001

1. We respectfully urge you to closely watch the progress of "deferred energy accounting." Ratepayers will face severe jolts when the bill catches up with them, probably after the next general election. Deferred energy accounting is an involuntary credit card for every ratepayer with a still-unstated interest rate.

Twenty years ago, the Nevada Utility Reform Alliance had its first incarnation. At that time, deferred energy accounting was the major issue. Our mantra was "Fifteen-Twelve." Sierra Pacific Power Co. obtained rate increases by submitting expenses for fifteen months and revenue for twelve months to the Nevada Public Service Commission. It always meant a fat rate increase. Deferred energy accounting created a great burden for state incumbents.


UNION PIPEFITTERS WORK 'ROUND THE CLOCK ON A MAJOR FACILITY

Twenty years ago, an almost-anointed incumbent governor (Robert List) was almost certain to win. He had already defeated his likely opponent once. Deferred accounting and other utility matters became key campaign issues. Not only did the opponent (Richard Bryan) win, the opposition party held onto the Nevada statehouse for the next sixteen years. Every incumbent utility commissioner was ousted.

2. We must end state government by crisis management. Nevadans deserve better than undocumented claims that if a particular bill is not enacted, utilities face bankruptcy in 30 days. Where, we ask, is that documentation?

Nevadans deserve better than a $317 million emergency rate increase enacted without meaningful public notice or public testimony, enacted with a press release being the only written documentation before the Public Utilities Commission.This is like crucifying the defendant at the behest of the money changers and then holding the preliminary hearing. In short, we must stop flying blind. No one in this room knows the real rate of return for Nevada's utilities. No one on the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada knows what it is. Considering Sierra Pacific Resources' history of distributing stock dividends and then demanding emergency rate increases, we wonder if its management knows.

Nevada utilities have not been fully audited since the mid-1990's.
In our view, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada currently lacks staff with the expertise needed to supervise such an audit. An independent audit of our utilities is needed. The company should not be involved the contract being let, paid for and supervised by Sierra Pacific Resources. Also, it should not be conducted by a Nevada accounting firm with a long term relationship with Sierra Pacific. That may well involve hiring an out-of-state firm. That is the way to help end management by crisis.

3. Should Public Utility Commissioners be elected? Our organization will discuss this at our next general meeting on May 19 and report back to you. Every member of this committee is certainly welcome to attend our meetings. My personal inclination is that Nevada should first implement campaign reform and then consider this issue.

The real problem we are talking around is how to insulate the commission from the governor. I simply don't know the answer to that question. Perhaps, a pro-small ratepayer governor would be a solution.

4. You will soon be asked to allow the mining and casino industries to opt out of the system. We strongly oppose this. Under existing law, Sierra Pacific Resources must maintain backup power for these industries. Smaller ratepayers will be forced to pay for these stranded costs. That will be a grave injustice.

More important, you must first reconcile hopelessly conflicting statements. These industries are Sierra Pacific's best paying customers and account for about 20 per cent of its revenue. If it is true that the utility may go broke in 30 days and you want the lights to stay on, you cannot allow these industries to opt out of the system.

5. The state agency responsible for low income home energy assistance has no telephone number listed in any Nevada telephone book. This indicates an intention to minimize outlays by being a stealth agency. When a prospective client contacts the State Welfare Department and asks for low income assistance, he or she is told to go to the Salvation Army or Catholic Welfare.

Thank you.

_____________________

Thomas Wilson is a retired journalist and former state official. He lives in Carson City and is a founding director of NURAy.

Nevada Utility Reform Alliance (NURAy) endorses legislative proposals aimed at preventing possible heat stroke deaths in southern Nevada due to soaring utility rates

"State Consumer Advocate Timothy Hay says average electric bills in southern Nevada will rise from $171 to $232 by this coming August," NURA executive director Scott Underwood says.

"The hotter the weather, the more likely hundreds of Clark County residents will have their electricity cut off during a triple digit heat wave," he added.

Underwood pointed out that the problem could be aggravated by the current economic slowdown. He called for support of two assembly bills each calling for a $5 million appropriation for the state's low income home energy assistance program.

Assembly Bill 349 by Assemblyman David Goldwater, D-Las Vegas, calls for a mill tax on electricity sales to pay for the program. Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell, D-Carson City, authored a measure that calls for a direct legislative appropriation.

"We need to get the level of eligibility up to 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines for many widows straining to hold onto large empty nests," Underwood said. "They are very much at risk."

Underwood also called for increasing federal low income energy assistance funds.

"Nevada gets less per capita than any state in the nation except Hawaii. Yet, we have arctic winters in northern Nevada and Saharan summers in Clark County," Underwood noted.

He called on Gov. Kenny Guinn and the state's congressional delegation to get Nevada a fair share of federal money.

"Only Representative Shelley Berkley appears to be aware of the problem," Underwood said. The program currently pays low income applicants about $280 on a one time only basis.

"The state agency helps only about 8,600 people out of a population of 147,000 eligible persons," Underwood said.

"The agency needs some reforms itself." Underwood pointed out that the state's low income energy assistance agency lacks staff in southern Nevada.

"It is not listed in the Reno or Las Vegas telephone books," he noted.

"A stealth agency is of no benefit to the majority of individuals it is supposed to service."

The governor's budget calls for serving 8,800 people this year.

 

WHY IS GASOLINE SO HIGH? READ THE BARBWIRE OILOGOPOLY INVESTIGATIVE SERIES.

 

Dudley Do-right, Nell Fenwick and Snidely Whiplash cartoon characters © Jay Ward Productions

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