Yazmyn Pelaez

Still Reeling from Record High Gas Bills, Customers Face Another Southwest Gas Rate Hike

Advocates Demand Relief and Greater Utility Scrutiny

Las Vegas, NV – In response to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada’s (PUCN) decision to approve a rate increase for Southwest Gas, after confirming there were no changes to the draft order released on March 22, clean energy advocates call for greater accountability and scrutiny of utility practices that prioritize corporate profits over the well-being of Nevadans.

While utility regulators reduced the company’s initial request of $74 million to $65.56 million, the decision comes amidst Southwest Gas’s record profit earnings and the ongoing challenge facing Nevada families and small businesses: raising utility costs at a time when many are struggling to afford basic necessities. This is Southwest Gas’s fourth rate increase since 2018, a frequency well above the industry norm. The company decides when and how often they wish to seek a rate increase.

The rate increase, effective April 1, reduces the impact of the company’s announced decrease in fuel prices, set for the same date. Both Southwest Gas and the PUCN attempted to justify that the rate increase would not impact ratepayers due to the offset in fuel costs. However, by continuing to depend on methane gas, Nevada residents will continue to be exposed to financial instability and unnecessary risk due to potential price surges as utilities remain unaffected.

While Nevadans are struggling to make ends meet, Southwest Gas executives and shareholders are doing better than ever before. The company’s third-quarter revenues of $775 million is an increase of $4 million from the same quarter last year. The company’s most recent public filings show an overall revenue of $5.48 billion, up from $4.96 billion in 2022 and $3.68 billion in 2021.

The PUCN is currently developing regulations for SB 281, a bill passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor to establish a planning and review process for gas utilities. If done right, this planning process will provide more scrutiny to proposed expansions of gas service that ratepayers are ultimately on the hook for.

“While we acknowledge the PUCN’s effort to moderate the impact on consumers, the seemingly never-ending rate hike requests by Southwest Gas underscore a deeper issue,” said Kristee Watson, Executive Director of the Nevada Conservation League. “It’s high time we address the utility’s aggressive pursuit of fossil fuel expansions and rate increases that burden our families, especially when they are reaping record profits.”

“As mothers, we fight for a cleaner, healthier future for our children,” said Mercedes McKinley, Nevada Field Organizer for EcoMadres and Moms Clean Air Force. “It’s unacceptable that our families bear the cost of Southwest Gas’s expansion while they continue to profit at the expense of our children’s health and our planet.”

“Our faith teaches us to care for the least among us. But instead of sharing the pain that their customers are feeling, utility companies are passing the buck,” said Dr. Mary House, CEO of CHR, Inc. (Caring, Helping and Restoring Lives). “The relentless pursuit of profit by Southwest Gas, at a time when so many are struggling, is a moral failing. We call for justice and equity in our energy policies.”

“Investing in energy efficiency and clean energy alternatives is not only environmentally responsible but also economically smart,” said Caitlin Gatchalian, a representative of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “Southwest Gas’ focus on expanding its gas infrastructure overlooks the long-term savings and environmental benefits that could be achieved through such investments.”

“We are deeply disappointed in the PUCN’s decision,” said Audrey Peral, Program Director for Chispa Nevada. “As we shared with the Commission during December’s Consumer Session, our families are struggling to pay for basic needs and cannot afford another rate increase. So long as Nevadans are dependent on imported gas, our bills will continue to be unpredictable. We demand the PUCN reject any more rate increases and seek a transition to local, affordable, clean energy solutions.”

Today’s decision underscores the need for a shift in energy utilities’ practices, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing affordable, clean energy solutions that align with Nevada’s climate goals and protect its residents from undue financial burdens.

The Nevada Conservation League is the independent voice of Nevada’s Conservation Community. We work to maintain and enhance the natural character of Nevada and the quality of life for Nevadans through effective advocacy, the election of pro-conservation candidates, and building collaboration.

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