News Releases

Nevada Power Launches Communications Program About Rising Energy Prices, Other Key Utility Issues

Jan 4, 2001

Nevada Power
Contact: Karl Walquist / Bob Sagan
Phone: (775) 834-3891 or (775) 834-4834

For Immediate Release

Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Power Company are launching extensive efforts to communicate with their customers about rising energy prices and a host of other utility issues affecting electric and natural gas consumers throughout the United States.

The program includes an a new energy related Web site, brochures and bill inserts that explain why prices are going up and describes what customers can do to manage their power bills more effectively.

Customers recently expressed overall high satisfaction with service, electric rates and reliability they receive from Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power, according to a survey conducted in the fall by Penn, Schoen& Berland Associates, Inc. They also indicated they wanted to hear directly from their local utilities about future rate increases and other utility industry issues.

As part of the communications effort, Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Power Company have expanded and redesigned their Web sites to make them easier to navigate and more interactive. The sites provide more information about energy efficiency and events occurring in the utility industry. Their new Energy Information sites can be accessed onSierra Pacific's site,orNevada Power's site

The Energy Information site includes tips for conserving electricity and natural gas, answers to common questions about energy issues and has links to other energy related Web sites. It also provides a list of programs offering financial aid to customers who need help paying their energy bills.

Customers can order energy efficiency information on-line over the new Web site, including a new free booklet,12 Easy Ways to Save Energy Dollars at Home.The booklet, available in English and Spanish, has 32 pages of suggestions for making the house more comfortable (winter or summer), while saving energy and money at little or no cost.

Starting Jan. 2, Sierra Pacific customers began receiving new, easier to understand billing statements. The new billing statements will make it easier for customers to find answers to the following questions: How much do I owe? When is my payment due? Equal Payment Plan/Budget Billing Helps Customers Budget for Energy Costs Where do I find details on my account?

Pending approval by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN), Sierra Pacific will be offering residential gas and electric customers the opportunity to sign up for its Equal Payment Plan/Budget Billing on a year-round basis. Under the plan, customers are able to pay the same amount each month for energy based on an estimate of their annual bill. Previously, customers could only sign up for the plan once a year during the July billing cycle.

Equal payments will begin in the next billing period after application by the customer. At the end of the payment year, the amount of the adjustment from the customer's equal payment billing versus the actual billing will be calculated. A new equal payment amount will be computed and any debit or credit balance remaining from the prior year will be spread over the new equal payment plan year. If the credit balance is for $100 or more, the customer will be issued a check for the credited amount.

Much of the nation, especially California, is faced with rising energy bills because energy supplies aren't sufficient to satisfy the growing demand for electricity and natural gas. Utilities are paying more for fuel to operate power plants, and they're paying record amounts for electricity purchased from other suppliers on the open market. Sierra Pacific is also paying more for wholesale supplies of natural gas for its retail gas customers.

Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power have obtained PUCN approval to pass along some of those costs to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The utilities realize no profit on fuel or purchased power and only recover a portion of their actual fuel and purchased power costs.

Both utilities are required to file monthly electric rate adjustments with the PUCN. The adjustments are based on 12-month averages for fuel and purchased power costs. The increases are capped to lessen the impact on rates. On a monthly basis, electric rates could increase or decrease, depending on fuel and purchased power costs. For Nevada Power's residential customer, monthly rates could increase or decrease by $1.04 to $1.92 based on monthly consumption of 1,100 kilowatt hours. Rates for Sierra Pacific residential customers could increase or decrease monthly by 62 cents to $1.14 based on monthly consumption of 650 kilowatt hours.

General ratesÂ- the component of electric rates that includes everything but fuel and purchased power Â- will remain capped for both utilities until March 1, 2003. The PUCN has given Sierra Pacific Power approval to recover additional costs paid to natural gas suppliers beginning Feb. 1, 2001. Residential gas customers will be paying approximately 35 percent more for gas, or about $11.52 cents per month for a typical customer using 53 therms of gas, but the utility will not be recovering all its actual costs for wholesale supplies.

Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power serve approximately 900,000 electric customers throughout Nevada and the Lake Tahoe area of California. Sierra Pacific also serves approximately 114,000 natural gas customers in the Reno- Sparks area. ###