Sierra Pacific seeks 10 percent natural gas hike |

Sierra Pacific seeks 10 percent natural gas hike

RENO (AP) – Sierra Pacific Power Co. asked state regulators Monday to approve a 10 percent increase in natural gas rates for residential customers effective Dec. 1.

The increase is needed to cover high energy costs nationwide that continue to up drive prices, the Reno-based utility said in its annual deferred energy filing with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada.

If approved, the typical residential customer would end up paying about $8.26 a month more, said Mary Simmons, Sierra Pacific’s vice president for external affairs.

“Unfortunately, natural gas prices have continued to rise nationwide, the same as other energy sources like oil and gasoline,” Simmons said in a statement Monday.

“Sierra Pacific searches for the best possible prices to obtain natural gas for its customers and utilizes long term contracts and other techniques to keep prices low.”

Sierra Pacific Power, a subsidiary of Sierra Pacific Resources, serves about 140,000 natural gas customers in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area.

The new filing seeks to recover costs the company already paid to its suppliers to provide natural gas to its customers between April 2005 and March 2006, Simmons said. It sets a new forward-looking rate based upon the projected price of natural gas next winter.

The costs do not include any profit or operating costs, but reflect only the price the company pays for or expects to pay for natural gas to serve its customers, the company said.

Over the next seven months, the request will be subject to audit and the PUCN will conduct hearings.

A decision on the request is expected sometime in the fall, with rates set to change December 1.

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