Friday, July 27, 2012

And The Hits Keep On Coming For Valley/Nevada Residents

First, it was the electric company.  Then the water company.  Food Prices.  Health insurance companies.  Gas prices. And now, natural gas prices.
From the Las Vegas Sun: Paying an extra $3.76 each month may not seem like a burden. A drink at Starbucks can easily cost more. Yet for Angel DeFazio, an elderly Las Vegas woman, paying that much more for her natural-gas bill is a raw deal.
As she sees it, Southwest Gas Corp. needs to cut its own expenses, not raise revenue by charging customers more. DeFazio was one of a handful of valley residents who spoke Thursday night at a state Public Utilities Commission hearing, in which people were given a chance to voice their opinions on Southwest’s proposed rate hike. They were all critical.....
Las Vegas-based Southwest Gas filed a request with the PUC in April seeking to raise rates in Southern and Northern Nevada. Under the proposal, the average rate increase for a single-family residence in Southern Nevada would be 8.3 percent. This would push up the average monthly bill by $3.76 to $49.05.
In Northern Nevada, the average rate increase would be 2.16 percent. This would cause the average monthly bill there to rise by $1.67 to $79.10, according to the most recent estimates from the company.
Southwest is also seeking PUC approval to implement a "Gas Infrastructure Replacement" mechanism. This would let the company "recover the investment" of certain infrastructure costs that do not generate additional revenue, according to the commission.
As planned by Southwest, the rate hikes would take effect Nov. 1. They are expected to generate an additional $24.9 million of revenue from Southern Nevada and $2 million from the northern part of the state, says Southwest.
On one hand, the cost of gas is actually pretty reasonable in Las Vegas.  In fact, my last gas bill was about $6 in gas, but almost $15 in fees and taxes.  In winter, my bill goes up to an astonishing $40.  So, any gas increase will be minimal.
However, that's just us.  Those who are on welfare, unemployed or live in colder areas of Nevada, it will have a much bigger impact.
Part of the reason for the increase was to increase their return (profit).  I am all for profit, if a company earns it.  The more profit, the better.  However, we are asking public employees to take pay cuts and/or reduced hours and private employees have it even worse.  So, until the economy gets better, utility companies should only have minimal profits.  And $123 million in profit is not a bad profit.
In addition, natural gas costs have plummeted but has Southwest lowered our gas prices because of this?  Nope.
So, should the PUC grant Southwest it's price increase?  Only when Southwest lowers it's prices when natural gas prices go down.

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