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August 22, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Conservation is a long-term benefit

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Regarding the story “Commissioner: Energy programs are tapping out NV Energy customers”:

It seems to me that state legislators have a much more firm grasp on the costs that ratepayers endure from NV Energy than the Public Utilities Commission has.

Yes, the utility requires ratepayers to cover money spent on efficiency programs, some renewable programs and some subsidies for people in dire need. However, scrapping these programs is short-term, narrow-focused thinking at its worst.

Efficiency programs incur one-time costs. Renewable programs release all of us from air pollution and global warming. Taking care of the neediest of our neighbors is something that is usually held up as the best of human behavior, something that we all want to participate in as far as we are able.

Efficiency programs are particularly important. The long-term benefits are huge for individual customers because weatherizing and insulating measures continue to save them money every month, far into the future. Those customers also benefit from being more comfortable in their homes, with better heating and air conditioning performance, at lower costs. Additionally, all ratepayers benefit when the utility is not forced to build more power plants and transmission lines because we have managed to conserve our energy requirements. There is a real trade-off between efficiency and new infrastructure.

It also makes me wonder who is tapping out whom, when NV Energy reported record-breaking profits this past year.

It’s time for Commissioner David Noble and the Public Utilities Commission to take care of ratepayers just like our elected leaders are aiming to do in Carson City.

The author is the energy chair of the Toiyabe chapter of the Sierra Club.

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  1. Utilities are monopolies. They set the rates using regulators and legislators as business partners. The inefficiencies of the utilities, whether administrative, research and development, and/or operational all get passed on to the customers in the form of higher rates and bills. Nothing will change that until utilities become market driven through the competition process. That's not going to happen in our lifetimes. As the proverb goes: When rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.

    Carmine D

  2. Puleeze! Exactly what is it worth to flip a switch and have instant power to run all those gadgets and necessities you have at your disposal? Care to get along without AC in the summertime? How about no clean water coming out of your taps? Or no natural gas to heat your residence in our "brutal" winters? (OK, so winter is pretty mild here compared to just about anywhere else in the USA.) Get the picture? Without NV Power, SW Gas, the LVVWD, where would we be? Why, just as backward as Afghanistan or many sub-Saharan countries. Yes, the cost for these wonderful & life-saving sources of energy must be as reasonable as possible but, PULEEEZE, quit your whining. Focus on ways to conserve your usage and cut your costs: fix water leaks promptly and set your thermostat a couple of degrees lower in winter and a couple of degrees higher in summer. You'll appreciate the lower utility bills that will arrive as a result. Try thinking of the glass as half-full rather than as half-empty.

  3. The first president to recognize the need for long term conservation was Jimmy Carter. His legislation required that all gas and electric utilities provide in-home energy audits at a minimal cost. The rate payer would receive a listing of home energy conservation measures based upon their specific cost effectiveness and energy conservation rebates. President Ronald Reagan kill the funding for this program. This is what can happen when one president is well ahead of the curve and the other has early onset Alzheimers (as related to me in 1984 by my physician).

  4. Ms. Feldman - resepectfully - you don't you know you're talking about.

    I'd suggest you take a look at these articles:

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/dec...

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/may...

    Here's the pertinent point:

    "A recommendation is going to the state Public Utility Commission on Thursday to allow NV Energy to collect $10.2 million from its customers for electricity they never used."

    The law permits utilities to collect revenue lost because of conservation programs that lower electric use."

    Got that? Even when you institute programs to increase efficiency, the power monopoly has the right to go to the PUC and beg for a rate hike to make up for the lost revenue. And they charge YOU for that lost revenue.

    Sorry for the reality check.

  5. LIHEA is not given to the "neediest" of customers. The Universal Energy Charge added to our bills is used as the State "match" to federal funds. Those same funds are GIVEN TO ILLEGAL families while American seniors are cold and unable to collect. LIHEA in Nevada is based on household size--so a household of illegals with one anchor baby gets $1,000 grant for their utilities bills. NO EXCUSE for NEVADA / LEGISLATURE not to CHANGE THE WAY LIHEA IS GIVEN OUT--should be FIRST TO AMERICANS.

    SUSTAINABLE renewable energy programs are those that encourage COST EFFECTIVE repairs and replacements (say windows) that are smart to do without subsidies. It would make much more sense for NV Energy and friends to advertise (a web ad?) how the math works. For example: when a homeowner replaces all the old windows with vinyl, it takes 6-7 years to pay for itself. You save that much on your heating and cooling bills. Any incentive for landlords to replace windows?

  6. 100% of all researchers agree on one point. Supplies of oil, gas, coal are finite. The disagreement is about specifically how much longer they will last. Ten weeks? Ten years? Ten decades? Doesn't matter. They WILL RUN OUT!

    People such as SgtRock seem to suggest that we should do absolutely nothing until the last barrel of oil, the last cubic foot of natural gas, has been removed from the ground. I disagree. We can't wait until then. We MUST start looking for replacements at least twenty years ago.

    Yes, the search WILL cost money. And yes, it WILL run into dead ends. And yes, there will be a LOT of money spent, "wasted" if you prefer that word, with no particular result other than identifying yet another dead-end idea. And there will be PLENTY of those! Would any one prefer the alternative? That we burn the penultimate cubic foot, push the very last barrel through the refinery, and only THEN start to look for a replacement energy source?

    The sooner we can relegate oil to the status of "an adequate lubricant, but there are more desirable alternatives" the better off we will be.

  7. Respectfully Mr. Reality; Should we rate payers be forced to pay the railroads, the coal companies, and the Texas tycoons ad infinitum for something cheaply obtained in our own area ?

  8. "Focus on ways to conserve your usage and cut your costs: fix water leaks promptly and set your thermostat a couple of degrees lower in winter and a couple of degrees higher in summer."

    Jerry:
    That's the same argument the government used for gas and oil dependence. More efficient automobiles, less dependence on foreign oil, more drilling and exploration here at home. It's all worked. U.S. demand and use of oil is down. What happened to the prices of gas at the pump? They went up, stayed up and likely will go higher!

    Carmine D

  9. Jeff:

    I can't take the credit. Many more said it before me. I plagiarized it here. Glad it and I upset you. Good therapy for a privileged white class snob.

    Carmine D

  10. As usual Jeff your head is stuck in the sand or another dark place.

    Carmine D

  11. You're groping Jeff. Quite understandable. Get your head out and breath the fresh air. It will open your mind. Maybe in your case that's stretching it.

    Carmine D

  12. Jeff:

    You epitomize this saying with your posts here:

    If you know the facts, argue the facts. If you know the law, argue the law. If you don't know either, then act the fool.

    Carmine D

  13. Happy Palm Sunday and Holy Week to you and yours Jeff.

    Always enjoy the back and forth.

    Carmine D