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Peppermill Casinos Makes Bid to Exit NV Energy, Buy Power on Open Market

July 20, 2016 By Cheryl Kaften

Peppermill Casinos filed (Docket No. 16-07017) on July 12 with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUCN) for the go-ahead to leave NV Energy and buy its power on the open retail market – making it the fourth casino to do so this year, although the Las Vegas Sands has put its request on hold.

MGM Resorts International expects to pursue its exit application by October 1; Wynn Las Vegas will make its departure “later this year,” the company said. Peppermill has said that it would like to exit by next March.

The two Strip hotel-casino owners will be the first to leave in more than a decade, using a 2001 law enacted by the Nevada Legislature, according to a report by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The statue, NRS 704b, permits companies to cut ties with the utility, if they consume more than 1 megawatt (MW) of power annually, pay an exit fee, and receive approval from the PUCN.

To shield remaining NV Energy customers from paying higher rates in the wake of the casino departures, orders in the two cases earlier cases mandate that the casinos should pay a cumulative $102,665 million  –$86.927 million from MGM; $15.738, million from Wynn – plus recurring fees and charges to recover certain ongoing costs “that cannot currently be quantified.”

Indeed, the commission said, “These fees are necessary because NV Energy’s remaining ratepayers would otherwise be forced to pay increased rates to allow recovery of costs already incurred to provide reliable electric service to the casinos.”

 If Reno-based Peppermill were to exit, it would be expected to pay such fees, as well.

The gaming company has said it would purchase energy from Minnesota-based Cargill Power Markets, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Last year, the news outlet reported, the PUCN rejected computer giant Switch’s bid to leave the utility and purchase electricity on the open market, even if it paid a $27 million fee. Switch filed a lawsuit last week alleging it was treated unfairly in that proceeding

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