Rising cost of energy felt Nevada casinos | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Rising cost of energy felt Nevada casinos

Susan Wood

Among all the fallout created by California’s energy crisis, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Reno on April 12 took the lead from Las Vegas and added a $3 surcharge on every room to help offset rising energy costs.

Harrah’s started adding the temporary fee structure in Las Vegas two weeks ago.

According to Las Vegas corporate management, there hasn’t been any backlash from customers paying for the fees at their properties.

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe spokesman John Packer and Director of Marketing Barry Phillips were unavailable for comment Wednesday.

“It’s the prudent thing to do. If we were in the restaurant business or the baking business and the price of sugar went up, then we’d pass (those costs) along,” corporate lodging and entertainment properties spokesman Gary Thompson said. “If energy prices roll back to a more reasonable level, then we’ll roll back the fees.”

Thompson estimated the casino company pays $1.6 million in energy costs in a six-month period.

Most of Harrah’s customers come from California, so they seem to understand the reason for the added fees, Thompson said.

However, the company doesn’t expect the added fees will recover its energy costs.

Other major hotel chains, including some Hilton properties, have instituted $2.50 surcharges.

California Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Allan Zaremberg predicts many large users will experience a major impact from high energy costs, deemed one of the most pressing issues to affect California business.

“If there’s no solution on the horizon in terms of price stability and more importantly reliability, there’s no question there could be economic consequences,” he said, turning his attention west.

“The bottom line is, if we don’t have the reliability and support, and people don’t see the reliability and support, that will cause (business) to relocate,” he added.

The dependability is what the California Farm Bureau will be watching too.

A 60 percent cutback of water allocations to farmers from the Central Valley Project will prompt them to use underground pumps that are electrically powered.

Rolling blackouts may also have devastating effects on California poultry farms, which depend largely on fans and water to cool the barns housing their birds.

Farmers’ problems don’t end with short electricity supplies.

Bush’s proposed budget plan cuts Calfed expenditures.

Calfed is an $8.5 billion state-federal plan spread over the next 10 years to improve water quality, make water deliveries more reliable to farmers and cities and protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay.

Across the state border, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn placed his energy conservation plan on the Internet at http://www.demo.state.nv.us.

“The energy situation must be addressed on many fronts and from many different angles due to its complex nature,” Guinn stated. “There is not one single piece of legislation or planning that will adequately address the issue. It demands a comprehensive approach.”

Many low-income Nevadans are already feeling the pinch of the 17-percent electricity hike imposed by Sierra Pacific Resources, The Food Bank of Northern Nevada reported from its Sparks offices.

Many families are forced to choose between paying the bills and putting food on the table. With that, the demand on emergency food programs and local food pantries has risen.

Statewide statistics indicate that 42 percent of those going without food are children. Seniors constitute 30 percent.

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