The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Wednesday approved a natural gas retail rate decrease of 1.2%, or $2.2 million, for Sierra Pacific Power Co. The lower charges reflect a reduction of wholesale natural gas prices for the Sierra Pacific Resources utility.

“This is the second consecutive year that our natural gas prices have been reduced heading into the winter heating season,” said Mary Simmons, external affairs vice president for Sierra Pacific Power (SPP). “In our initial filing [with the PUC] made last spring, market forecasts indicated a continued rise in the price of natural gas through the upcoming year. Fortunately, prices have stabilized.”

Simmons said the Reno-based utility feels fortunate that the natural gas markets “have remained relatively flat,” allowing the utility to reduce customer bills at the outset of the winter heating season.

As an adjunct to the natural gas rate change, the PUC also approved changes in the charges for about 410 liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) customers that will result in a 32% decrease in monthly LPG bills. Typical LPG customers using about 48 therms will see their monthly bills drop by about one-third (from $91.89 to $61.27).

SPP makes an annual PUC filing to adjust its retail natural gas and LPG rates to reflect changes in the wholesale markets for the two fuels. The utility serves about 145,000 natural gas customers and 410 LPG customers in the Reno-Sparks-northern Nevada area.

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