County Questions Rate Hike

Nye County Commissioners will present a letter at the prehearing conference Thursday in response to Utilities Inc. of Central Nevada’s request to adjust its annual revenue requirement for water and sewer service rates for all customers to pay for some community projects.

Commissioner Dan Schinhofen asked to put a letter forward that outlines several conditions including no ratepayer money for design, engineering or construction of the Discovery Park; prior to start-up of the RIBS, detailed analysis of the effluent water; no legal expenses for any litigation with Nye County or Willow Creek Golf Course, Nye County planning applications, negotiations or appeals.

“As a ratepayer, and many of the people in my district are ratepayers, I haven’t heard nobody think this is a good idea,” Schinhofen said at the Tuesday meeting.

The proposed hikes include a 13.14 percent increase for all service classes including residential, commercial and irrigation services and public authority. UICN also suggested an increase of 5.7 percent or $161,302 to its sewer division revenue requirement for a total revenue requirement of $2,991,516.

UICN Regional President Wendy Barnett was present at the meeting but didn’t comment on the decision.

Some of the most expensive projects include the Calvada North pipeline that was priced at $408,523; Willow Creek land stabilization at $597,783; and the Willow Creek property purchase at $383,526. Willow Creek has been renamed Discovery Park.

In a notice of application for authorization filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada on July 8, UICN proposed an increase of approximately 12.34 percent or $390,085 to its water service revenue requirement for a total revenue of $3,551,420.

Tom Oakley, director of public relations for Illinois-based parent company Utilities, Inc., said the projects are thoroughly reviewed by the PUCN for “prudency” — a determination that they are to the benefit of the customers.

· “Again, these are projects that we plan to do when we file the IRP,” Oakley said. “For example, in the First Amendment to the 2011 IRP which we filed in 2013, we went to the PUCN and said, paraphrasing here, ‘We need to do a series of land stabilization projects at Willow Creek to eliminate the hazards identified by the District Court under the prior owner.'”

· The PUCN determined that the land stabilization was crucial to the reliable operation of our wastewater treatment plant, approved the plan and it has been executed using investor funds to pay for the work, Oakley said.

“Although the RIBS have been approved in the IRP process, they are not included in the current rate case because the money hasn’t been spent yet,” Oakley added. “That will be recovered once the work is finished and paid for.”

Tuesday’s board meeting was a last chance for officials to intervene in a proposed increase. Schinhofen said he will present a letter to the Public Utilities Commission during the prehearing conference on Thursday in Carson City that will set dates for a hearing and procedural schedule. The conference will be teleconferenced at 11 a.m. in Las Vegas at PUC offices, 9075 W. Diablo Drive.