Sierra Pacific reports lower second quarter earnings |

Sierra Pacific reports lower second quarter earnings

RENO (AP) – The parent company of Nevada’s two main electric utilities on Monday reported earnings for the second quarter dropped slightly compared with the same period last year because of higher operating and maintenance costs.

Reno-based Sierra Pacific Resources, the holding company of Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Power companies said income for the three months ending June 30 decreased to $25.8 million, or 12 cents a share, compared with $27.8 million, or 14 cents a share, for the same quarter in 2006.

Almost 37,000 Sierra Pacific Power customers live in the Lake Tahoe Basin. About 80 percent of Sierra Pacific’s 46,000 California customers reside in the Basin.

The company’s California service area extends from Portola in the north to Markleeville and Topaz Lake to Coleville in the south. Sierra Pacific has approximately 275,000 customers in northern Nevada.

The company, which came close to bankruptcy after the 2000-2001 Western energy crisis and struggled to regain its financial footing, on Saturday announced its first quarterly dividend to stockholders in more than five years.

Sierra Pacific Power reported income of $10 million, up from $7.6 million the previous year.

Company officials also were questioned about comments made last week by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid over three major coal-fired power plants proposed in Nevada, including Sierra Pacific’s $3.7 billion Ely Energy Center, which would generate 1,500 megawatts of electricity.

The Senate majority leader said he’ll do “everything I can” to stop the projects, adding that Nevada utilities instead “should be heavily focused on rapid and significant investments in clean renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

Higgins said Reid hasn’t indicated “any intent to directly participate” in the regulatory or permitting process.

He also said Reid has indicated he could support coal plants that include carbon capture and storage capabilities, though such technology hasn’t been developed yet.

But Higgins said such technology could be incorporated at the Ely “when it comes available.”

Company officials also said the Ely project would replace older, more polluting coal plants.

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