Southwest Gas customers, equity, and clean energy advocates call for more programs that boost energy efficiency, expand electric appliance options, and reduce gas system spending.
***RESOURCES: Photos and recordings are available here.***
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Nevadans are being hit hard with high utility bills, and volatile natural (methane) gas prices are largely to blame. Nevada’s over-reliance on methane gas, coupled with recent rate hikes, puts consumers – not Southwest Gas – at risk, and we’re seeing that reflected in our gas bills now.
Southwest Gas’s customers are shocked and outraged by high gas bills this winter. That’s why customers turned up in droves to a Consumer Session held by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada on Tuesday, February 21. Customers, clean energy and environmental justice advocates, and community leaders shared their hardships and frustrations with the volatile fossil fuel and its impact on pocketbooks. Attendees called on the gas utility and PUCN to deliver more programs that boost the energy efficiency of homes, provide more affordable electric appliance options, and reduce overall gas system spending that customers are on the hook for paying.
Here is what attendees of the PUCN session had to say:
“This winter, Nevadans saw their monthly bills almost double,” said Angelyn Tabalba with Nevada Conservation League. “For low-income households, a slight increase in their gas bills can have a significant impact on their ability to afford basic necessities such as food and healthcare.”
“How can you say ‘rate increase, rate increase, rate increase’ and follow it up with ‘reasonable’? It is not reasonable to us because we have to live,” said Gregory Williams, a frustrated Southwest Gas customer. “We invested in the solar system to feed energy back into the grid. There’s no way for us to do that with gas. The money we’re saving from solar, we’re now having to move over and pay for gas. It does not make any sense for our gas bills to go up four times what they were when we first got here four years ago.”
“As a Southwest Gas customer and member of the Las Vegas community, I am highly disappointed over high gas utility bills,” said Marlon Anderson with Faith Organizing Alliance. “It’s not just the volatile nature of methane gas that is causing our bills to spiral out of control. Southwest Gas’s relentless desire to build and expand its reach puts all of us – families and small businesses – on the hook to cover these costs whether we like it or not.”
“We need the PUCN to help accelerate our state’s transition to renewable energy and provide our families with an energy source that’s cleaner, more affordable, and less volatile than methane gas,” said Angel Lazcano with Somos Votantes. “The Inflation Reduction Act presents Nevada utilities with a historic opportunity to do all these things. Please make sure they are leveraging these funds on our behalf.”
“I am here today with one goal in mind,” said Dr. Mary House with CHR, Inc. “To urge this Commission and Southwest Gas to ease the burden of high gas utility bills through more robust home energy efficiency programs and by expanding access to highly energy efficient electric appliances, like heat pumps for space and water heating.