Nevada regulators to vote on NV Energy sale

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Updated: 12/15/2013 4:46 pm

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada regulators are scheduled to vote on the sale of NV Energy to a company owned by billionaire Warren Buffett.

The vote Monday by the Public Utilities Commission comes after the chairwoman of the panel recommended approval of the deal.

A draft order released last week by PUC Chairwoman Alaina Burtenshaw said the $5.6 billion purchase by Buffett's MidAmerican Energy is in the public interest, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

The draft order will be presented to the full three-member commission for final approval.

NV Energy is Nevada's largest utility with 2.4 million customers. It is the parent company of Nevada Power Co. in Las Vegas and Sierra Pacific Power Co. in Reno. Sierra Pacific also provides natural gas to some consumers.

An agreement to shield ratepayers from costs associated with the deal was reached earlier by MidAmerican, the Nevada Consumer Protection Bureau, utility commission staff and NV Energy. That agreement says consumers will not have to pay $2 billion of the $5.6 billion purchase price, which was initially proposed by the companies.

Burtenshaw's draft order says customers should be refunded a combined $20 million through credits to their bills and that ratepayers not fund pay raises for NV Energy senior executives for 24 months. The order also said the new company should investigate how to improve service to the Las Vegas area.

Under the plan, the $20 million credit to customers will break down to $13 for a residential customer in the Las Vegas area, $7 for those served by Sierra Pacific and $2 for natural gas users of Sierra Pacific. It will be credited in one monthly bill after the regulatory approval, the Sun reported.

Any future workforce reductions other than those made in the normal course of business or attrition would also require utility commission approval.

The proposed order also would require PUC approval before NV Energy or its subsidiaries make any loans or transfer money. It also states a commitment that executives of NV Energy will meet with the commission 30 days before a legislative session to discuss plans by the utility to pursue law changes.

Burtenshaw said the commission was not informed during the 2013 Legislature about some of the bills supported by NV Energy. The proposed order states the need for "clear communications with regards to what might be going forward into the legislative session and to allow for open discussion about issues, concerns, potential solutions and things that might need legislative support."

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