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AARP Nevada Works to Limit Utility Increases

New Technology Creates New Member Engagement Opportunities

Though AARP is one of the only consumer groups to address national utilities issues over the last 20 years www.aarp.org/utilities and AARP Nevada has been advocating more than 10 years to keep utilities costs down; we traditionally worked with a small number of local volunteers to accomplish our goals.

See Also: Fighting to Save You Money on Utilities

Public utilities hearings are generally full of jargon; many of the hearings refer to specific details of law and regulation which could best be described as “dry.” While we shared our successes with members through The Bulletin and Enewsletter articles like this one; we didn’t ask members for help.

In 2011 all of that changed; however. New technology which allowed us to create subgroups of e-activists and gave us an opportunity to test the interest of members on the subject of utilities costs. We created an activist group called the AARP Nevada Utilities Watchdogs; and began by alerting other AARP activists regarding the new group. And what a response we got! In just a few months we’ve added 370 members statewide to our “Utilities Watchdogs” and continue to expand the group as members learn more about how they can help AARP with this pocketbook issue.

A story of Member Activism

When the most recent rate increase was announced, the numbers were astounding. NV Energy asked for a rate increase in Southern Nevada of nearly $250 million. Nearly half of the rate increase would go to profits. That’s when AARP decided the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the governing body charged with reviewing utilities rate increase requests, should hear from our members. Of the 300+ Watchdogs on our email list at that time, 130 wrote the PUC protesting the large increase in profits. When we invited Watchdogs to attend a public hearing, 12 from southern Nevada came to Cashman Center in Las Vegas, wearing red AARP t-shirts as our advocacy director, Barry Gold, gave public comment. A recent telephone town hall on rate increases statewide drew more than 18,000 members.

You Can Make a Difference

During this week’s telephone town hall, many members felt they had no voice in decision making on utilities rates. That’s simply not true. But if utilities customers want their concerns to be heard alongside the concerns of big utility companies, then they have to get involved by showing up at public hearings, taking the time to write emails and make phone calls to the Public Utilities Commission.

And in the interim, there are ways to save money on your utilities which can help bring down your monthly costs. Check out our tips sheet.

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