News Releases

Rate Increase Needed for Federally Mandated Water Treatment Facilities

Sep 18, 1997

Sierra Pacific Power Company
Contact: Charlie Fletcher
Phone: (775)834-3959

For Immediate Release

Sierra Pacific today filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) for a water rate increase to pay for new water facilities required to meet the federally mandated Safe Drinking Water Act.

"Recent improvements and additions to our water treatment plants guarantee that we can provide our customers some of the safest, highest quality drinking water in the United States today and into the 21st century," said Lori Williams, director of water operations for Sierra Pacific.

Williams said Sierra Pacific has spent more than $100 million since 1993 to construct new treatment facilities including the Chalk Bluff Water Treatment Plant, which utilizes the latest technology in water purification. During the 1997 New Year?s Flood, Chalk Bluff filtered the Truckee River?s muddy waters, providing an uninterrupted, safe, clean water supply.

Additional improvements included upgrades to the Glendale Water Treatment Plant and covers on all storage facilities such as the Hunter Lake and Highland reservoirs.

The rate request would result in an increase of $16.56 (from $43.13 to $59.69) for the average residential flat rate customer with a¾ inch service. Residential customers on meters would see increases depending on the amount of water consumed. On average, residential customers on meters will see smaller increases than non-metered customers.

Because commercial customers are metered, their increase will also correspond to water usage. The filing will be reviewed by the PUCN before becoming effective in the spring of 1998.

Williams added that when the Safe Drinking Water Act first became law in 1986, price increase projections were much higher.

"We made a concerted effort to reduce that figure substantially through savings including reduced operational facility costs," she said."As a result, the increase is 50 percent lower than the original 1993 projections when the first phase of Chalk Bluff was completed."

Although customers will see higher water rates, Williams said electric customers will most likely see a refund in 1998 due to operational efficiencies, cost containment and a streamlined workforce.

Currently, customers are paying less for electricity today than in 1993, and will continue to do so until the year 2000. During the last year Sierra Pacific refunded $13 million to electric customers, decreased electric prices by $7 million per year, and froze electric and natural gas prices until 2000.