utilities continually consume consumers
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
subsidizing whom? Net meterers may be supporting other customers
Buffett perpetuates mendacious net metering propaganda
metering: The backlash continues
Story: Fighting the future
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?
judge refuses to stop Nevada fracking
Day 2014: Red,
white and screwed
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.
II: Nevada's Battle-Born Toxic Event
News & Worse News Dept.>
Nevada Consumer Advocate Jon Wellinghoff to leave FERC chairmanship
shut out of utility legislation, putting ratepayers at risk
Dead 29 year-old NVE worker's life worth only a $43,000 fine
a Smart Meter, Go to Jail
MacDonald: The beautiful face of honor
deserves rate cut, not hike
Strangelove and Sen. Don the Dumberer
of famers give the boss the finger
Sheen & the Price of Gasoline
GOP governor wants to sell off power plants with no bids
building tax break just another casino/developer subsidy from taxpayers,
and a huge one
smart meters make a comeback after 30 years
IS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU'RE SORRY:
will pay $20 million in Enron utility costs?
rules that Nevada Power must eat more of Enronesque overcharge
REDUX Future Test Year is Back
rate hike approved
UPDATED ON 3-15-2006
Energy halts Gerlach, Nevada, coal-fired plant study
bill fee hike planned
pushes inquiry into $40mm So. Cal Edison sales tax rebate
2003 UTILITY RE-DEREGULATION INDIGESTION
consumer advocate defends budget for hiring consultants
general should lay off trying to torpedo consumer advocate
advocate to appeal rate hike
cable and trash companies
2001 LEGISLATURE: Re-deregulated damage
WHAD'YA EXPECT? Big users look to drop NP/SPP service under AB 661
LV Sun Editorial Don't let NV Power off hook
LVRJ Editor blasts AB661 secrecy provisions
NEVADA GOVERNOR BOTH SUPPORTS AND OPPOSES UTILITY DEREGULATION
SPP/NP lowballed lawmakers to score bailout
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.
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
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
The godfather of Nevada consumer protection returns
from long ago
"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.
"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.
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)
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.
off a jackpot before the handle is pulled"
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.
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.
AVOID THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST
OF THOMAS E. WILSON BEFORE
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
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
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.
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.
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