Why So Many Casinos Are Leaving NV Energy

Jul 20, 2016

The Peppermill Resort in south Reno is the latest casino trying to cut the chord with NV Energy.

The hotel-casino filed its exit application with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission earlier this month, hoping to leave the utility by next spring.

That makes it the fourth casino to do so, after Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts and the Sands Corporation. Switch data center also tried to leave, but was denied by the PUC.

"The casinos have one simple motivation...they believe that they can get electricity for lower prices if they leave NV Energy," says Stephen Brown, an economics professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

He says improving technology in renewable energy and cheaper alternatives like natural gas are the driving factors.

"Losing lots of big customers is an indication that, perhaps, NV Energy's prices aren't that competitive," he says.

The Peppermill application says it intends to obtain energy from a Minnesota-based company.

The PUC will determine an exit fee that the company will be required to pay. MGM and Wynn are the only customers leaving for certain this fall.

Brown says these moves by big companies may empower the push for deregulation of the power market, which is one of the proposed ballot referendums this year.