by Hugh Jackson, Nevada Current
Gov Joe Lombardo issued an official “executive order” on energy policy Monday.
It should have been titled an “executive sentiment.”
The only item approximating a tangible specific policy in the “order” is Lombardo directing state agencies to conduct permitting processes concurrently instead of sequentially. And even that is only “when applicable.”
Big deal. Whenever there’s something an energy-related developer considers a burdensome permitting delay, it’s almost never, if ever, state regulators that are the problem, but federal ones, i.e., regulators over which Lombardo has no jurisdiction.
In other words, the closest thing to an actual order in the order looks like a nothingburger.
The executive order isn’t so much an order on energy but an expression of Lombardo’s feelings about it.
Long order short, it turns out he has a crush on natural gas. And not just the stoves that occupied a brief if implausible front in the right’s perpetual culture war a few weeks ago.
NV Energy and Southwest Gas will likely try to invoke Lombardo’s sweet nothings about natural gas as they try to muscle the Nevada Public Utility Commission into forcing the monopolies’ customers to pay for new gas fired power plants and other infrastructure, whether those things are needed or not. Reminder: Regulated monopolies are not allowed to mark up the price to make a profit on the electrons they buy from the grid or the methane they buy from Warren Buffet’s pipeline. But they are allowed to make a profit when they build stuff. Which is why utilities always want to build stuff. Gold plated stuff, if they can get away with it.
Fortunately for the monopolies’ customers, Lombardo’s enthusiasm for natural gas, though tenderly expressed, amounts to no more than idle adoration and vague generalizations, mere gossamer, far too thin to be taken into consideration when fairly, which is to say legally, determining what costs monopolies can cram into your gas and power bills.
But Lombardo got some headlines that at least make it look like he might be doing something Democrats, environmentalists, and consumer advocates don’t like. And that’s the important thing.
A version of this brief commentary was originally published in the Daily Current newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.
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