News Releases

Sierra Pacific Files to Recover Higher Natural Gas Costs

Oct 31, 2000

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

For Immediate Release

Over 18-year period price per therm increase is only 1%
The Department of Energy recently announced in its October Energy Report the cost of natural gas at the wellhead has risen nearly 100 percent during the past year. According to the American Gas Association, natural gas prices have risen during the last year because of growing demand coupled with tight domestic supplies, resulting from the high, volatile prices for oil, a competing fuel.

To account for the higher cost of natural gas that Sierra Pacific Power Co. pays to its suppliers, the company filed today with the Public Utility Commission of Nevada (PUCN) to recover $26.8 million in additional costs. The resulting increase in the price per therm paid by residential customers will be approximately 35 percent, which is only about one-third the increase reported by the Department of Energy.

The gas bill for a typical Sierra Pacific residential customer who uses 53 therms of natural gas per month is expected to rise by approximately $11.30 (from $33.15 to $44.45). The earliest that all or a portion of the increase could go into effect would be December 1, 2000.

"This increase is a direct result of the higher cost of natural gas being charged to Sierra Pacific by its gas suppliers," said Jeff Ceccarelli, President of Sierra Pacific Power Co."These higher costs charged by suppliers are passed through to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis." The adjustment in prices will be reviewed by the PUCN before becoming effective.

According to Ceccarelli, even after this current adjustment, natural gas rates for Sierra Pacific's 110,000 customers in the Reno/Sparks will be less than one penny higher than they were in 1982. Over a period of 18 years, this represents an increase in the price per therm of only about 1%. Ceccarelli said,"In 1993, which was the last time the company changed its rates for natural gas, they were actually decreased."

Ceccarelli said the company has been able to protect customers from the full impact of prices being paid by other utilities across the nation because Sierra Pacific has been particularly efficient in managing how it purchases its gas supplies.

A customer's bill for natural gas is determined by both the price paid for the gas itself and by the amount of gas they use. As a result, many customers have the ability to control their bills by reducing gas usage, particularly during cold winter months. Some steps that can be taken to reduce gas usage include turning down thermostats, adding extra attic insulation, and weather-stripping and caulking doors and windows. Customers interested in learning more about how to save gas and conserve energy can contact Sierra Pacific at 834-4556.