Las Vegas Sun

March 19, 2019

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Several big resort companies are working to sever ties with NV Energy

NV Energy Building Exterior

Steve Marcus

Exterior view of the NV Energy building Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in Las Vegas.

Several Las Vegas resort companies and a prominent tech business are seeking approval to obtain their electricity outside of NV Energy, a move that poses questions about the potential impact on the utility’s remaining customers.

Leading the effort are data storage trailblazer Switch, as well as Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands Corp.

If successful, at least 15 resorts on the Strip and a data center in suburban Las Vegas would no longer be reliant on NV Energy for power.

The companies are in varying stages of the regulatory approval process.

The resorts’ filings with the state’s Public Utilities Commission are not yet public but were reported on Thursday by journalist Jon Ralston. The companies are waiting to submit applications that will become public within the next 30 days.

Switch applied with the PUC last fall and is still awaiting approval.

The effort will likely spark debate among lobbyists, politicians and business executives about the potential cost to NV Energy if some of its largest customers are no longer dependent on the utility’s power generation.

The companies would still be connected to NV Energy’s grid but would produce power via rooftop solar panels and other means. Switch indicated it would buy power from Exelon Generation Co.

The companies are using a 2001 law as the vehicle for their push. It allows energy users who consume more than 1 megawatt of power a year to buy electricity on the open market.

At the time the law passed, NV Energy said there were provisions in place to prevent a rate increase on consumers.

Under the law, companies must pay NV Energy to disconnect from the utility’s power supply. The money would make up for lost annual fees the companies pay.

But the state attorney general’s Consumer Protection Bureau recently expressed concern that there still might be a cost burden on other NV Energy customers.

NV Energy, the resorts and Switch declined to comment.

Barrick Gold Corp. took advantage of the law in 2004 and built its own power plant, which is located near Reno.

The PUC has denied multiple applications from Station Casinos, MGM and others to leave NV Energy’s power supply since the law passed.

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