Las Vegas Sun

May 24, 2024

To lower utility bills, NV Energy efficiency programs might get axe

CARSON CITY - The state Public Utilities Commission is evaluating whether energy efficiency programs offered by NV Energy should be reduced or eliminated altogether to keep electricity rates lower.

NV Energy spent $37.7 million in 2009 in promoting energy efficiency through rebates for customers who buy energy efficient light bulbs and similar programs. An agreement had been reached for NV Energy to spend $26.7 million this year on these programs. But that is being challenged.

At a hearing Wednesday, Commissioner David Noble said the PUC must decide if these programs are "fair game." The commission will make a decision next month.

Dan Jacobsen, technical staff manager for the state Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the programs for residential lighting, refrigerator recycling and thermal water heating should be suspended because they are not cost effective. Nevada's electric rates are already high and suspending these programs would help keep the rates from rising.

A universal energy charge is attached to the bill of the ratepayer to help pay for these programs.

Under the present energy light bulbs program the utility pays the distributor an amount and the bulbs are sold for a lower price to the consumer.

The utility provides a $50 rebate to customers who replaces old, inefficient refrigerators with new high-energy models and it picks up the old unit so it can be recycled.

Jacobsen said there is a business in Las Vegas that will pay consumers $15 if they brings the old unit to the company so it can be recycled. Or the business will pick up the old refrigerator free of charge.

The utility also helps finance home weatherization for low-income citizens who are not covered under a federal program. It spent $3 million on this program in 2009 but it could be on the chopping block

NV Energy spent $1.8 million in 2009 on manufactured and mobile home retrofits. But that too is facing a possible elimination.

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