Bill passage a shining moment for casinos |

Bill passage a shining moment for casinos

The cheers could be heard as high as 16 stories up and as low as 300 feet down under.

Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn signed into law Tuesday a bill that allows Nevada casino and mining companies to negotiate their own deals with power providers.

“We’re pleased. It’s much more preferable to cut energy costs than to lay off people,” said Tim Crowley, governmental affairs spokesman for the Nevada Mining Association.

Phil Herback, Harveys Casino Resorts director of facilities and governmental affairs, called the legislation “a good thing” because it levels the playing field among power providers and buyers.

Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick, who voted for the bill, said he now expects several casinos and mines to bargain for their own power. He believes the savings could be significant for operations like the Miekle Mine outside Elko, which runs one of the largest air-conditioning systems in the United States.

Sierra Pacific Power, which supplies electricity to northern Nevada, supported AB 661. The bill was delayed until the Nevada Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that its passage in the Legislature was valid.

“It was a tough one to tell,” Guinn’s spokesman Jack Finn said of the court’s 5-2 decision. “These things can go either way.”

AB 661 provides mines and casinos with “direct access,” meaning they can choose separate companies for power generation and transmission. Crowley expects mining companies won’t waste any time looking for alternatives though it’s unclear how much money they might save, if any.

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