Nevada Utility Commissioners Slash Funding for Energy Efficiency Programs

In a hearing today, Nevada utility commissioners took an unprecedented move to slash energy efficiency programs for residential and business customers of NV Energy in southern Nevada.  Three programs were completely shuttered. The rest of NV Energy’s programs were funded at low levels for 2016-2018. 

Programs that were eliminated:

1) Residential Lighting program which lowers the cost of LED lamps sold in stores;

2) Refrigerator Recycling program which picks up and recycles older refrigerators and freezers; and

3) Pool Pumps program that provides incentives for installation of highly efficient pool pumps.

“The PUCN’s decision was not based on the evidence presented in the case. No party in the case proposed eliminating these three programs or argued that they are ineffective,” said Howard Geller, executive director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, which advances energy efficiency in the Southwest.   “The decision takes Nevada in the wrong direction at a time when all nearby states including Arizona and Utah are ramping up their utility energy efficiency programs, not slashing them.”

Geller called the decision, “Penny wise and pound foolish and not in the public interest.” Utility customers will save a slight amount on their monthly utility bills in the short run, but will pay more down the road when NV Energy must meet growing demand for electricity by building new power plants or purchasing power on the open market.

At the last minute, a proposal by Commission Chairman Paul Thomsen to reinstate funding for Energy Smart Schools program was approved by the Commission. The program was also on the chopping block.  But funding was only approved for one year, not the full three-year plan period.

According to NV Energy, the net economic benefits resulting from its 2016-2018 energy efficiency programs will be $55 million lower as a result of the PUCN’s decision. In addition, participation in the programs will be greatly reduced as a result of the Commission’s action.

NV Energy’s popular Commercial Services program that helps businesses upgrade mechanical systems and switch to LED lights saw its funding chopped from a proposed $13.5 million per year on average during 2016-18 to $11 million per year, close to a 20% cut. 

“Some businesses will do whatever they can to be green,” said Kim Sullivan, president of commercial LED lighting firm A-Cent Technologies. “But I can tell you from experience that the vast majority of businesses rely on utility rebates to justify the expense of upgrading to very energy efficient lighting.  We need to encourage—not close the spigot—on these upgrades, because the benefits are a win-win for us all.”

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in AZ, CO, NM, NV, UT and WY.  For more information, visit us at www.swenergy.org.

 

FOR COMMENT:

Howard Geller, SWEEP Executive Director.  (303) 447-0078 ext. 1; (720) 313-9337 cell; hgeller@swenergy.org

Kim Sullivan, president, A-Cent Tech (702) 591-1379; kim.s@acenttech.com

Matthew Whinery, energy services manager, UNLV: (702) 895-4886; matthew.whinery@unlv.edu