by Jeniffer Solis, Nevada Current
Utility regulators approved a price hike for Southwest Gas customers, and ratepayers in Southern Nevada are expected to get the brunt of it.
Last week, the Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved Southwest Gas’ request for a new annual rate, which would increase the utility’s revenue by $11.8 million, citing higher natural gas prices as its justification.
Under the approved plan, the average monthly single-family residential bill in Southern Nevada will increase by about $2.01, or 3.5%. In Northern Nevada, the average single-family residential monthly bill will decrease by about $1.58, or 1.65%.
Multifamily residential ratepayers in Southern Nevada will see a rate increase of 56 cents to their monthly bill, while in Northern Nevada customers will see their monthly bill decrease by about $1.05.
The overall rate decrease in Northern Nevada came after a review of the difference between approved general rate revenues and actual general rate revenues from previous warmer than normal winters which helped offset recent costs.
Both Southern and Northern Nevada will see their monthly bill for residential air conditioning increase by $4.71 and 2 cents, respectively.
The new rates will take effect July 1. Utility regulators have approved rate increases for the last three consecutive quarters.
Southwest Gas originally proposed a rate increase for its captive Nevada customers to bring $21.4 million in additional revenue for the utility company, a move that drew fierce criticism from utility customers.
Strong opposition by the public led to an agreement between Southwest Gas and the Bureau of Consumer Protection and PUC regulatory staff to reduce the utility’s original rate request by $7.5 million in Southern Nevada and a rate reduction of $2 million in Northern Nevada.
Altogether Southwest Gas will see a revenue increase of $13.8 million in Southern Nevada and a revenue drop of $1.9 million in Northern Nevada.
Under the agreement, Southwest Gas also agreed to terminate the Solar Thermal Systems Demonstration Program, which charged ratepayers a small fee to promote the installation of solar thermal systems in homes. The program spent about $200,000 over the past two years.
The utility company has recently come under fire by consumer advocates for what they say are unnecessary infrastructure projects.
Last month, Southwest Gas asked lawmakers to approve a measure that would allow it to speed up its recovery of an estimated $3 billion to replace 5,200 miles of pipe in Southern Nevada, a move that could prove costly to ratepayers who could see the cost reflected in their monthly utility bills.
Southwest Gas is expected to file another quarterly rate adjustment with the PUC starting January 1, 2024.
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