“The Nevada Public Utilities Commission has given NV Energy the green light to kick-up your electricity bill.”
That’s how KTNV-TV Channel 13 of Las Vegas begins its web story on the public hearing about NV Energy rate hikes held May 23. Maybe not the kind of publicity the utility wants, but certainly the kind it deserves. (See the Channel 13 video newscast.)
Reflecting growing customer anger, the Shame on NV Energy Facebook page now has over 36,000 supporters.
The theme of consumer rebellion was picked up by Las Vegas Sun reporter David McGrath, who wrote:
“With Nevada having among the highest power rates in the West, consumer advocates have expressed concern about this rate case, piled on top of other pending legislation being considered by the 2011 Legislature.”
The Sun went on to note:
“Rita Weisshaar, a retired NV Energy worker, said ‘Any rate increase is going to hurt. We’re so beat up in Nevada right now.’ ”
Though the Sun’s story didn’t cover this part of her testimony, Weisshaar took NV Energy to task in front of the PUCN:
“A rate increase has a negative impact on all Nevadans and visitors. Not only when it targets residential customers and domestic rates but also when the increase is for commercial customers because those costs are passed to us the, the consumers, in higher prices in many things we can’t live without,” Weisshaar said. “The people of Nevada can’t afford to take another hit no matter how small it is perceived by some to be. Especially from NV Energy a company that made profits of $227 million and gave its CEO Michael Yakira a pay raise to reach over $5 million in compensation in 2010.” (See Weisshaar’s full remarks.)
It’s not the first time that Weisshaar, an officer of the Reno/Sparks Chapter of the IBEW Local 1245 Retirees Club, has pointed out NV Energy’s shortcomings, which include gouging its customers, cheating its retirees, slashing its workforce, and ranking last in customer service among all the mountain states. But with a new rate hike boosting customers’ bills an average of $5.29 a month, Weisshaar’s message may finally be getting through.
“[C]ustomers are fighting back,” Channel 13 reported . “They’ve created Facebook groups like ‘We The People’ and ‘Shame on NV Energy’, and thousands across the state have signed an online petition against the rate hike.”
To be specific, the Shame on NV Energy Facebook page now has 36,000 supporters, making it far more popular than the Facebook pages of the state’s leading politicians. And now those customers’ feelings about NV Energy have begun to spill into the mainstream media.
“I’m disgusted,” said Gina Marion, quoted by Channel 13 following the rate hike announcement. “I move back home after 25 years and I’m getting $600 and $700 bills each month and they’re validating that.”
Weisshaar delivered her comments to the Las Vegas hearing via a video link-up in Carson City.