About 50 people were in attendance at the Alamo Power Board public hearing July 15 in the multi-purpose room at Pahranagat Valley Elementary School.

The special meeting was called to take public comment about a proposed merger of  Alamo Power District No. 3 with Lincoln County Power District No.1.

Managers of both districts, Doug Miller and Dave Luttrell, were on hand and each gave a PowerPoint slide presentation outlining the benefits and financial scheme of the proposed merger.

In the later comment period, only a few of those who signed up to make oral comment actually did so, deferring their thoughts to others of like mind, and some had prepared comments.

In the handout Miller provided to the audience, he outlined the benefits of consolidation, especially the benefits to Alamo Power District customers, employee benefits, electric system benefits, as well as the benefits to Lincoln County Power District customers and accompanying electric system benefits.

He also noted that if the merger were approved, “None of the current Alamo employees would lose their jobs and all classes of customers would be able to receive benefit from the merger.”

In presenting a billing comparison between the proposed rates after the merger and the existing rates, he showed the savings, both residential and commercial classifications would receive.

For example, a private home in the district using about 2500 kilowatt-hours per month, which Miller said is quite normal, would realize a monthly savings of about $22-$23. 

In the comments by Luttrell, he acknowledged the biggest obstacle to the merger at present, is the makeup of the board of control. The plan, as first envisioned, called for one member from Pahranagat Valley, three members from Lincoln County Power, and one at-large representative, which Luttrell thought would most likely come from the agricultural community.

However, Luttrell said, that plan as is, runs afoul of current state law and the process listed in the Nevada Revised Statutes Section 318.

A solution might be to have the law changed, as the Overton Power District did when it consolidated in 2009 with Mesquite, Logandale, Moapa, and Bunkerville, and creating a different alignment of board members, and also to have the language of the law specifically crafted to apply only to the situation between Alamo and Lincoln County Power.

State Assemblyman James Oscarson, Luttrell said, is willing to submit such a bill to the next session of the Nevada Legislature which begins in February, 2015, but he needs to know soon what the local people want to do, because he needs to have the basic draft idea for the bill submitted by mid-September.  

Public comments made by those attending the meeting were mostly not in favor of the merger, with a basic feeling a merger would be to give away the freedom of Alamo Power, and not have equal representation on the new consolidated board. “It is taking away our representation,” one person said, “with no more local control or ownership of their power district. Who in their right mind gives those kind of things up? We would be selling ourselves down the river just to get a cheaper rate.”

In addition, current Alamo Power District customers, but not current LCPD customers, would have to pay an “area rate adder” of 1.857 cents per kilowatt-hour per month, residential and commercial.

Miller said the rate adder would remain in effect until the current long-term employees of Alamo Power began to retire.

One person said if the legislative bill were presented at the next session, there is no guarantee it would be passed, and Alamo Power would still have been dissolved, “so where would we stand then?”

On the other hand, it was mentioned by a local rancher, without the merger, he, as an Alamo Power customer, is facing the possibility of another rate hike, and his local business would be severely impacted and he might have to leave. If so, it was later mentioned, that might cost the Alamo economy about $100,000.  

Another person said it was their opinion the matter should be looked at longer and more completely, and suggested waiting until the 2017 legislative session to try to change the law without having the rate adder included.

However, others noted, if Alamo Power does not consolidate with LCPD, local rates will likely have to go up again, possibly next summer. 

As this was a public hearing only, the board took no action, and will continue to have further discussions.