The fight over Question 3, an amendment that would have effectively deregulated the state’s electric industry, resulted in nearly $100 million in combined campaign spending by business interests, including $63.6 million by opponents, nearly all of it paid by NV Energy.
So who picks up that $63.6 million tab?
Not customers, according to the Public Utilities Commission.
The “cost to oppose Question 3 is not a cost that is properly recovered from NV Energy’s customers,” said PUC public information officer Peter Kostes in an email.
And regulators are going to watch for that.
The Regulatory Operations Staff of the Commission and the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protections will be reviewing all applications by NV Energy to change customer rates to make sure that Question 3 costs are not included in the calculation of customer rates, Kostes said.
Regulated public utilities in Nevada are not allowed to recover costs associated with advertising, lobbying, charitable contributions and other expenses not necessary for providing safe and reliable utility services in rates, said Kostes.
“Costs that a regulated public utility incurs that are not included in customer rates are paid for by the utility’s shareholders,” wrote Kostes in an email.
NV Energy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which in turn is a subsidiary of the Warren Buffet-controlled transnational conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway Inc.