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February 11, 2005
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ARCHIVE: Water and Power

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PLASKON: Water and power are inseparable. Pat Mulroy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority explains.

MULROY: We can do nothing without energy, we have the water but we can't get it to the household, similarly power plants can't exist without water. They require water for their cooling purposes.

PLASKON: Pumping all that water to houses makes the Water Authority Nevada Power's 9th biggest customer. The Water Authority has always leaned toward consolidation, but not the way Nevada Power wanted. It dangled 3 billion dollars in front Nevada Power, but the company was less than receptive to the takeover offer and responded by suing the water authority. It claimed that the Water Authority and the Colorado River Commission which controls Hoover Dam electricity conspired to drive up power prices and destabilize Nevada Power. Mulroy knows what attitudes circulated during the 2001 power crisis in the west.

MULROY: You have to remember that those were crazy times and a lot of people suspected a lot of people of a lot of things and there are no grudges there are no bad feelings we are just going to move forward.

PLASKON: Nevada Power agreed to lay down its suits today. In exchange the water authority has allowed Nevada Power to operate and sell power from the Silverhawk power plant in which the Water Authority holds an interest. The two will work together on a plan to pipe water from northern Nevada to Las Vegas says Walter Higgins Chairman and CEO of Nevada Power and the parent company Sierra Pacific,

HIGGINS: We certain have possibilities like sharing transmission lines and corridors. If you are going to bring a corridor down, we also have a need to bring a transmission conduit down, by that I mean an overhead line. Maybe they could be in the same place instead of two different place. They are going to need power to pump water and maybe we can be there to do it for them.

JACKSON: I can see how this could be really good for Nevada Power.

PLASKON: Hugh Jackson is Policy Analyst with the National Consumer Advocacy Organization Public Citizen. He says Nevada Power stands to profit immensely by pumping water from Rural Nevada to Las Vegas. And that's the real reason for the deal says Jackson. he points at a Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Meeting a month ago where Mulroy said she needed business as a partner for a tough fight in the legislature with the plan to acquire the rural water for Las Vegas.

JACKSON: So you have the water monopoly and the power monopoly forging this agreement that appears to be so that they can push for this water grab up north that is going to cost billions of dollars and who is going to end up paying for it. Water and power customers.

PLASKON: He would have liked more public involvement before this public-private partnership was formed. The Water Authority says the deal will stabilize water prices for consumers. Nevada Power holds water rights on most of it's power plant land and according to Nevada Power's CEO, it could trade water rights for others at generating plants near wells the Water Authority plans to develop northeast of Las Vegas.

Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR.

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