HData turned industry heads this past week when public testimony from the Nevada Public Utilities Commission revealed that its team had used HData to find nearly $1 million in savings for Nevada businesses and families. Let’s take a closer look at what happened.
Rate Case Overview
The rate a utility company charges for their delivering service is known as a distribution rate. And when a customer’s paid rate for that utility service no longer covers the cost of providing it, the utility company will file a legal proceeding called a rate case. The rate case begins with an application.
The application, by itself, is often thousands of pages long, including a wide breadth of data that justifies the new requested rate and details about what, specifically, the charged rate will cover. The rate case is reviewed in formal proceedings before the regulatory body and a decision is made. There’s an enormous amount of data gathering, analysis, and review throughout the entire process.
What Happened in Nevada
The Nevada Public Utilities Commission is a regulating body, and they’re currently deciding whether to allow Nevada Power Company (better known as NV Energy) to increase its rates. As part of the rate case, the commission’s staff have been scrutinizing the costs that Nevada Power is proposing to pass through to its ratepayers.
The commission utilized HData to dig through the mountain of data included in NV Energy’s rate case application in order to find "disallowances." Disallowances are costs that a utility should not be allowed to recoup from ratepayers, and when they’re missed in this process (which can understandably happen when thousands of pages of data are reviewed manually), the costs do get passed onto rate payers. In this case, those customers are the businesses and families that pay for services by NV Energy.
What was revealed in the rate case testimony was incredible. With the help of HData, the Commission staff found $1 million in disallowances that - if not caught - would’ve been passed along to the ratepayers.
A More Detailed Look at the Role of HData
The Commission’s Staff used HData to analyze NV Energy’s most recent annual report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is an important part of the rate case application. This report contains thousands of numbers. For the first time in a public proceeding, HData’s Insights apps made it easy for the Commission’s staff to isolate the few numbers that showed the biggest variances over the previous year and focus their investigation on those numbers. According to public testimony by two members of the Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s Regulatory Operations staff, HData showed that NV Energy’s costs for Miscellaneous Distribution Expenses and Maintenance of Meters increased unexpectedly between 2021 and 2022. These findings led the staff to further question those line items, which without HData wouldn’t have received special attention.
As shown in one of HData’s Insights apps, NV Energy’s Miscellaneous Distribution Expenses showed a significant increase from 2021 to 2022. See an interactive version on HData here: https://hdata.idaciti.com/analysis/#/embed/651b2e3db24412c1e83c35dc
What Happens Now?
As a result of the investigation, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission staff are recommending that the Commission disallow $518K in Miscellaneous Distribution Expenses, which were incorrectly included in NV Energy’s rate request, and disallow $467K in Maintenance of Meters costs, based on an expectation that maintenance costs will be reduced in the future.
This means that if NV Energy agrees or the recommendations are accepted, that’s $985,000 that won’t be passed onto NV Energy customers within their rates.
You can read more here:
- Testimony of Anne-Marie Cuneo, Director of Regulatory Operations, mentioning HData on page 7 of the document/page 8 of the PDF: https://pucweb1.state.nv.us/PDF/AxImages/DOCKETS_2020_THRU_PRESENT/2023-6/29505.pdf
- Testimony of Percy Lucban, Regulatory Engineer, mentioning HData on page 9: https://pucweb1.state.nv.us/PDF/AxImages/DOCKETS_2020_THRU_PRESENT/2023-6/29530.pdf