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BC residents pay less for power than neighbors

A presentation at the City Council meeting July 9 shed light on the city’s electric use structure and its plan for providing power cheaper than anywhere else in Southern Nevada.

The city’s five-year integrated resource plan, presented by electric utility administrator Rory Dwyer, is an evaluation of the city’s energy usage and energy resource alternatives, required by law because the city is a recipient of federal hydroelectric power from Hoover Dam.

Boulder City serves about 15,200 residents from about 7,800 metered accounts, Dwyer said. The residential customers make up 87.4 percent of the meters, and 63.9 percent of the sales, he added.

On average, Boulder City’s residential customers pay about 30 percent to 56 percent less for their electric service than an equivalent customer would pay in neighboring service areas, Dwyer said.

Dwyer presented a graph depicting Boulder City’s rate structure compared with the structures of NV Energy, Valley Electric Association and Overton Power District No. 5. The graph showed that Boulder City’s residential monthly charge was less, as well as its use rates in most cases.

“Boulder City is by far the lowest (monthly service charge),” Dwyer said.

Boulder City is also the only Southern Nevada utility that does not charge a 5 percent franchise fee, Dwyer said.

For a 1,500-square-foot detached house, using an annual 19,710 kilowatt hours of energy, Dwyer estimated that a Boulder City residential customer would pay $1,582. Customers with other Southern Nevada utilities would pay $500 to $900 more for the same thing, Dwyer said.

The commercial customers make up only 11.7 percent of the meters, but 33.1 percent of the sales, he said.

The largest commercial customer is the city’s public schools, making up nearly 10 percent of the city’s commercial sales. The next largest commercial customer is the city’s 31 restaurants and bars, followed by two supermarkets, Cascada Golf Course, Boulder City Hospital, and other users.

One percent of the meters, and just 3 percent of the sales, are from city accounts, Dwyer said.

An analysis of trends affecting resources needs showed that the growth in the number of residential electric accounts has been essentially flat over the past five years, at 0.2 percent, and the total energy sold has decreased by an average of 1.6 percent per year, Dwyer said.

Dwyer said the decrease in the amount of energy sold is attributable to economy-driven conservation by residents and businesses, the city’s demand side management programs, which provide incentives for efficient home upgrades, and milder weather over the five-year period.

Councilman Cam Walker questioned Dwyer’s analysis, pointing out that the city’s 35 percent electric rate increase in 2010 may also be a factor in the decrease in energy sold.

However, over the next five years, it is forecasted that the trend toward milder weather will not continue, but residences will become more efficient, leading to the assumption that total energy consumption will increase by 0.2 percent annually, Dwyer said.

“Air conditioners are getting more efficient all the time,” he said.

The city’s peak demand driver is summer air conditioning load, and for residential customers is three times that of the yearly average, Dwyer said. The peak commercial summer load is twice that of the yearly average.

“Summer air conditioning load is definitely the dominant factor driving our summer peak,” he said.

Dwyer also gave a summary of the city’s wholesale power supply, which finds most power coming from Hoover Dam, but also includes a number of other sources.

The city has firm resource commitments throughout the 2013-17 five-year planning period, and is not anticipating a load growth that will require the city to obtain additional purchased power resources, said Dwyer.

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