Public Utilities Commission Hears Input on Proposed Rate Increas - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Public Utilities Commission Hears Input on Proposed Rate Increase

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The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) is deciding on a controversial topic in the next few months. On Wednesday, residents voiced their opinions on a possible rate hike at a meeting with the PUCN.

NV Energy is petitioning the commission to try to raise rates in order to pay for the project that put Smart Meters on homes, but most people are not happy about it.

"I didn't want the Smart Meter here in the first place," said Art O'Connor of Southwest Reno. "I'm already paying an extra fee for not having a Smart Meter."

Whether you have one or opted out, the NV Energy Smart Meter project has brought a lot of discussion since it was approved by the PUCN about four years ago. They received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help offset the $303 million total cost. However, now they're looking to recover $78 million, arguing that Smart Meters will save $82 million over a 20-year period.

"The actual system itself has shown that it provides about $25 million in savings on an annual basis when you take into account the cost of savings of about $17 million per year," said Mary Simmons, NV Energy's Vice President of Business Development and Community Strategy.

At Wednesday's consumer session, people gave the PUCN their thoughts on potential rate hikes.

"I went and looked at a bill," said Greg Krasovec of Carson City. "That's when I realized we have all these renewable energy taxes and fees, and universal energy charges. So, I thought I would come down and start to see and understand exactly what they are trying to do."

NV Energy said the project helped them send less utility trucks to investigate outages, and that it also allows customers to see things online like their energy usage, so they can try to control how much power they use.

"Now, we have the ability to do that on a more automated basis," Simmons said.

They told me their databases are secure, but some customers say it still has the potential to be hacked. 

"Your instantaneous power usage is of great use to a burglar," O'Connor said. "You're there, or you're not. If the power meter's not churning, then it's there for him to come in."

This meeting was just the beginning, the commission is going to hold a public hearing on September 8th in Carson City.

"The commission will look at that," said Peter Kostes, Public Information Officer for the PUCN. "Following the hearing, they will decide whether there's any changes to the rates based on the evidence that's presented."

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