Future generations will pay
3) The utility says a "rate mitigation" provision will keep the cost of NVision down, but the commission says the cost will catch up to Nevadans because the plan is essentially a credit card scheme: only pay a little now, pay more later -- with interest.
"Your kids will end up paying for electricity that you used nine to 10 years ago, with interest," Cuneo said.
Under the bill, rate increases would be capped at 5 percent each year. But if the actual rate increase is higher, the difference would be carried over to future years and ratepayers would be charged interest. In short, consumers would trade a lower bill now for a higher bill later.
But Yackira said the process cuts both ways. The utility has collected more than it should have from customers in the past, and "we owe you money plus interest," Yackira said.
Bottom line: Yackira was speaking of fuel and power-purchase costs. The main costs from NVision would be from construction of new power plants and the cost of taking coal plants offline. So the comparisons aren't direct. But the process does, as Yackira said, cut both ways.
There may be fewer jobs than advertised
The plan does not provide the jobs NV Energy says it will, the commission says.
"There would likely be very minimal jobs with this Nvision plan," Cuneo said.
The original announcement said NVision would create 4,700 jobs. But, as the commission pointed out, the utility's current 20-year plan already includes job creation incidental to construction that likely will happen during the next two decades.
Yackira said that is true, but the accelerated decommissioning of coal and subsequent construction of natural gas and renewable energy assets would bring those jobs to Nevada faster.
"We were saying that this plan could create 4,000 or so jobs in the near term at a time that we're trying to improve the economy and decrease unemployment," he said.
Bottom line: NVision would result in job creation just as much as the status quo would result in job creation. The main difference is timing.
Energy efficiency isn't considered
The utility's plan doesn't take advantage of what is, by the utility's own admission, the cheapest, most effective way to keep rates low: energy efficiency.
Although consumers generally dislike the idea that NV Energy charges for the power they save through energy efficiency, it still costs less than building new power plants and transmission lines.
"I'm not understanding why we are eliminating that when it's our best option," said Commissioner Rebecca Wagner.
Yackira said the utility already has conservation programs.
"This plan is an adjunct to our conservation program, which in some years has reduced as much as 1 percent of total consumption in this state," he said.
Bottom line: The utility's plan sets a construction schedule for renewable energy and natural gas power plants. Building new power plants is one of the most profitable things the utility can do to make money, and a mandated schedule for construction gives shareholders assurance of long-term profitability.
There are potentially cheaper power purchase agreements
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