Las Vegas Sun

November 19, 2017

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Sandoval defends Public Utilities Commission after Reid’s criticism

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval meet in Reid's office.

Gov. Brian Sandoval on Wednesday defended the Public Utilities Commission — a regulatory panel he appoints — after U.S. Sen. Harry Reid described it as a "little bureaucracy" with too much power over the energy market in Nevada.

"They are my appointees and I think very highly of all three of them," Sandoval said in a brief interview. "I respect Reid's opinion and he's entitled to his take. But the process has been tried and true for decades."

In an interview this week, Reid criticized the PUC for standing in the way of a major energy bill before the state Legislature that he supports, claiming the regulatory agency always opts for the lowest cost option for providing energy rather than considering public policy that would protect the environment.

Under state law, the PUC must balance the interests of the ratepayers and shareholders when determining the rates NV Energy can charge its customers. Sandoval said that charge doesn't need to be changed.

The PUC may, however, come under increasing scrutiny in coming months. The regulatory body must approve the newly announced acquisition of NV Energy by Warren Buffett's company MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.

Sandoval said he's confident in the PUC to properly review the acquisition and look out for ratepayers.

"That's what they are there for," he said.

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