Nevada regulators last Wednesday cut retail natural gas utility rates for customers of Sierra Pacific Power Co. in the northern half of the state, lowering them an average of 2.4%, a drop of $2/month for the typical residential gas utility customer. The new lower rates are effective Dec. 1.

As one of two major Sierra Pacific Resources’ utilities in Nevada, Sierra Pacific Power serves about 145,000 natural gas customers in the Reno-Sparks area. The utility makes an annual gas cost-offset rate filing to adjust rates based on the most recent experience with the wholesale costs for natural gas.

The decision by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission reflected what the utility called “a reduction in natural gas prices since the company made its initial [gas-cost-offset] filing last May.” The utility and PUC staff, along with the state’s consumer protection bureau reached a settlement in the meantime that results in the rate decrease.

The PUC makes adjustments on a dollar-for-dollar basis — no profit is included in this portion of the utility’s rates — and annually sets a new gas rate based on what Sierra Pacific expects to pay for its gas supplies in the next year.

“This is good news for our customers, said Mary Simmons, Sierra Pacific Power’s vice president of external affairs. “High natural gas prices have plagued our industry for the past few year’s and today’s decision reflects the recent decline in prices as well as lower forecasts of natural gas prices.”

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