Southwest Gas seeks another Nevada rate hike |

Southwest Gas seeks another Nevada rate hike

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Southwest Gas Corp. has filed for a $29.4 million general revenue increase, a move that would raise bills by 7.7 percent in southern Nevada and 8 percent in northern Nevada.

The request, filed Friday with the state Public Utilities Commission, comes two weeks after the PUC voted to approve a $75 million revenue hike for the utility, raising bills by as much as 35 percent.

Southwest Gas officials said the latest filing is the first general rate increase sought by the company since 1995. A PUC decision is not expected until January.

General rate applications deal with a company’s costs of operating its distribution system and are not related to costs associated with buying gas.

Southwest Gas officials blamed the previous hike on massive increases in the price of wholesale natural gas that peaked last December.

Despite success in controlling costs and increasing productivity, the company has been unable to earn the rate of return authorized by the PUC, said Roger Montgomery, the utility’s vice president of pricing.

The proposed rate hike will allow Southwest Gas to earn a fair and reasonable rate of return so that it can attract the capital necessary to support Nevada’s continued growth, he added.

”A lot has happened since that time,” Montgomery said. ”Nevada has been the fastest-growing region in the country for several years running.

”The company has added 162,400 more homes and businesses to its customer base in Nevada, and invested more than $400 million in additional facilities to serve customers.”

If approved, the latest request would add $4.11 to an average monthly residential bill of $46.48 in southern Nevada and $7.59 to an average bill of $86.87 in northern Nevada.

Southwest Gas serves 408,000 customers in southern Nevada and 76,000 customers in northern Nevada.

The previous rate hike took effect this month. It raised average residential bills from about $62 to nearly $84, or 35 percent, in northern Nevada and from nearly $36 to nearly $44, or 21.5 percent, in southern Nevada.

It was Southwest Gas’ third rate increase since December. A 9.2 percent hike took effect Dec. 1, and was followed by a 23.8 percent increase one month later.

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