Complaints to the PUCN highlight frustrations with NV Energy’s lack of consumer protections

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) has received over one hundred complaints during the first seven months of 2023 from NV Energy customers dissatisfied with high bills and threats of service disconnection, according to documents obtained by the Energy and Policy Institute via Nevada’s Open Records Act. 

A review of the records reveals that customers are voicing concerns about the utility incorrectly tracking energy usage and computing inaccurate customer bills. One complaint details a customer’s interaction with NV Energy when she received an unexpectedly high bill after installing solar panels. When she called the NV Energy Billing Department about her bill, she was told “there is nothing [we] can do” and that if she “[didn’t] pay her bill they [would] issue a 10-day disconnect notice.” After an investigation, an NV Energy employee found the usage inputted on the customer’s billing statement was incorrect, leading the bill to be canceled and rebilled at $19.11.

Other customers have complained about NV Energy threatening to disconnect service for an unpaid bill during periods of extreme heat – when the temperature is dangerously high and jeopardizes human health. Multiple customers cited the exorbitant price of their energy bills, reporting bills as high as $5,000, and explained that the minimum payments are out of reach for them to keep late fees or shut-offs at bay. 

“[NV Energy] is quick to give us shut off notices when we don’t pay, but they sure don’t know what they are doing or they don’t care when making repairs,” one customer noted

Another customer submitted a complaint to the PUCN because they were taken to the hospital by paramedics when they could no longer use their required oxygen tank after NV Energy disconnected their service. Although Nevada prohibits utilities from terminating service for medically vulnerable customers, the disconnection can still be served if the customer’s account hasn’t been coded correctly or the medical status hasn’t been certified. 

In Nevada, gas and electric utilities are not required to report disconnection data. Other jurisdictions require utilities to report that data, including the number of shutoffs across service territories or household arrearage. The lack of data makes it nearly impossible to understand the scope of the problem or offer policies to prevent disconnections that threaten Nevadans’ safety and health, particularly for vulnerable populations. 

Las Vegas is one of the fastest warming cities in the U.S., and although Nevada restricts shutoffs during heat of 95°F or higher for seniors or persons with disabilities, that threshold is 100 degrees for northern Nevada customers in general, and 105 degrees for southern Nevada customers. Studies show that heat index conditions as low as 80°F can negatively affect human health. 

Posted by Energy and Policy Institute