Nearly a year after an NV Energy transformer exploded in Las Vegas, local business owners are still waiting for the utility to take responsibility for the blast and make restitution for the extensive property damage it caused.
“If I don’t call them they won’t call me,” said Mayra Politis, owner of The Attic, a vintage clothing store that was damaged so extensively it will have to be rebuilt.
Politis began calling the company shortly after the July 11, 2010 explosion to inquire about restitution.
“I tried to reach them directly, but couldn’t get anybody,” she said. In desperation, she began picketing NV Energy headquarters in August.
In January 2011, NV Energy finally spoke up—denying that the explosion was its fault. It pointed the finger at Southwest Gas, claiming that natural gas seeping from an underground gas pipeline triggered the explosion when it came into contact with a power conduit.
NV Energy said it intended to pay business owners for damages not covered by the owners’ own insurance, but another five months later Politis is still running her business from temporary quarters—and hasn’t seen a dime.
On May 3 she joined IBEW Local 1245 retirees and others picketing the NV Energy annual shareholders meeting. Though it was now nearly 10 months after the explosion, she still hadn’t landed a meeting with anyone from the utility.
Finally, on May 6, she met with a company official.
“I put in my claim and haven’t heard since,” said Politis.
Justice Delayed, Justice Denied
For small business owners like Politis, justice delayed can amount to justice denied. She believes the company is intentionally putting her off.
“They’re waiting me out, they know I will go under eventually and they will be out of it,” Politis said. “NVE is all powerful and all mighty. We have no choice. They do whatever the hell they want to do.”
But Politis doesn’t seem inclined to give up, despite the company’s power. In fact, it seems to be the company’s power and arrogance that fuels her quest for justice.
“I’m a capitalist and feel that everybody ought to make what they can make, but not off the skin and blood of everybody else,” she said.
She has a meeting scheduled with the mayor of Las Vegas later in June.
You can contact The Attic, Politis’ business, at firstname.lastname@example.org.