by Dana Gentry, Nevada Current
NV Energy’s effort to keep the lid on details of its sponsorship contracts with sports teams such as the Henderson Silver Knights and Las Vegas Aviators backfired Tuesday when the Nevada Public Utilities Commission told the utility to make those agreements public.
“The order before you would find that certain information at issue is not entitled to confidential treatment,” Commissioner Tammy Cordova said before she and Commissioner Hayley Williamson voted in favor of making the deals public.
The vote is the latest turn in NV Energy’s effort to keep secret the details of sponsorship agreements that include tickets to sporting events, tickets for group events, and other perks.
The utility objected in July when David Chairez of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) submitted public testimony with details of the sponsorships that NV Energy asserted were confidential – such as how many parking passes the utility is receiving from the Las Vegas Raiders.
Ratepayers “should not be asked to pay for sponsorship of professional sports teams and community events,” Chairez said in the testimony, which was removed from the PUC website hours after it was posted, and replaced with a version that redacted details of the sponsorship arrangements.
NV Energy maintains ratepayers are not being asked to cover the costs of tickets, but rather a portion of costs attributed to advertising energy and conservation initiatives under the broad banner of “PowerShift.” Many PowerShift initiatives are already paid by ratepayers.
The utility initially sought to bill ratepayers for about $200,000 of the $1.3 million cost of its sports team sponsorships. Those expenses are reported to federal energy regulators under “civic, political, and related activities,” made “for the purpose of influencing the decisions of public officials.”
NV Energy subsequently abandoned its efforts to have ratepayers subsidize $50,000 of its sponsorship deal with the Raiders, citing the generality of its advertising campaign at Allegiant Stadium.
“We appreciate the seriousness in which the Public Utilities Commission treated this matter. NV Energy is reviewing the order internally to determine what, if any, next steps are necessary,” NV Energy spokeswoman Meghin Delaney said Tuesday afternoon.
The utility has suggested it may be less transparent in the future should the agreements be made public. It’s unknown whether NV Energy will file a motion for reconsideration by Sept. 19 or file the sponsorship agreements with the PUC, as requested.
The PUC also ruled the BCP violated a protective agreement with NV Energy by revealing details of the contracts, despite the Commission’s ruling Tuesday that the information revealed is not confidential, and ordered BCP staff to attend continuing education classes regarding ethics and confidentiality.
Note: This story was updated with comment from NV Energy.
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