Federal investments are becoming available now and will aid an urgent transition to affordable clean energy, stable utility bills, and reduced climate pollution
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Yesterday, dozens of utility customers, equity and clean energy advocates, and community leaders gathered for a ratepayer rally before the annual Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) general consumer session in Las Vegas. Armed with posters and copies of unacceptably high energy bills, customers demonstrated their households’ hardships while advocates called for solutions.
Following the rally, utility customers and advocates poured into the PUCN hearing room, where the general consumer session was held. Attendees emphasized the detrimental effect of record-breaking utility bills on their families. They urged the PUCN to protect customers and scrutinize proposals put forward by NV Energy and Southwest Gas, such as plans to tie customers further to methane (natural) gas systems.
Not only is methane gas a harmful climate pollutant, but the gas is to blame for the current rate shock Nevada is experiencing. According to NV Energy, gas prices have increased by more than 70% in 2022 and nearly 500% since 2021. And, since NV Energy and Southwest Gas pass 100% of their fuel costs on to customers, the state’s overreliance on methane gas has become painfully apparent. Instead of tightening belts and being smart with customer money, NV Energy has gone so far as to propose more spending on gas plants that will ultimately be paid for by ratepayers.
The best path forward is an urgent transition to affordable clean energy that will stabilize prices while reducing climate pollution. The Affordable Clean Energy Plan represents a historic opportunity for Nevada and its utilities to leverage federal funds to help households weatherize their homes and lower their electricity bills.
“There is an enormous problem in our state. It is no surprise homeowners and tenants in southern Nevada are being hit hard by our state’s reliance on out-of-state methane gas. We’ve seen both our winter heating bills and summer cooling bills triple from what they were last year,” said Yazmyn Pelaez, Communications Director for Nevada Conservation League. “Nevadans know that there are solutions. Let’s lead with the health and prosperity of Nevadans and our environment in mind.”
“NV Energy and Southwest Gas blame the cost of gas as the reason families have less money for necessities like food, child care, medication prescriptions, household savings, and more. But, I want the utilities to tell us what they will do about it,” said Marlon Anderson, Clean Energy Organizer for Faith Organizing Alliance. “We’re urging the utilities and the Public Utilities Commission to provide real rate relief, invest in more local clean energy that will stabilize energy prices, and stop expanding the gas systems that led to this year’s devastating utility bills.”
“Monopolies like NV Energy and Southwest Gas might have millions to throw around, but we are the working class and will not let them profit off our struggles. These companies think they can spend millions of dollars on sponsorships and ads and then pass those costs on to us,” said Diana Diaz, a member of Make the Road Nevada. “We demand transparency and that they invest in affordable, clean energy options that benefit us—the consumers.”
“The Public Utilities Commission must hold our gas and electric utilities accountable for the decisions that have led us here. Instead of supporting community solar gardens and helping to put solar panels on every parking lot and roof, NV Energy is opening a new peaker gas plant in our neighborhoods,” said Audrey Peral, Program Director for Chispa Nevada. “Our communities are already more exposed to pollution and our health is suffering because of it. Our families deserve affordable, reliable, and clean energy. We need the PUCN to keep our rates low and reject any future rate increases. It’s past time to put people over profits.”
“Nevadans want real solutions that make life more affordable,” said Angel Lazcano, Environmental Justice Organizer for Somos Votantes. “Our utilities are obligated to diversify energy mixes and transition from methane gas to local clean energy so that prices are more stable for working people. We have an opportunity to achieve it by maximizing on the Federal Clean Energy Plan opportunities and programs to lower costs for customers.”