Las Vegas casinos move to leave NV Energy power grid

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — MGM Resorts International said it plans to leave NV Energy in the fall and pay an $87 million exit fee to do so, while Wynn Resorts is planning a similar move.

The casino giants filed paperwork with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada by a Thursday deadline, after months of back-and-forth with regulators about how much it should cost to drop the utility company as its power provider and find another energy source on the wholesale market.

"It is our objective to reduce MGM's environmental impact by decreasing the use of energy and aggressively pursuing renewable energy sources," wrote John McManus, MGM's executive vice president. "After careful thought and analysis over many months, we have concluded our objectives are best met by purchasing the energy required to operate our resorts ... from a source other than NV Energy."

Michael Weaver, spokesman for Wynn, said "we are moving forward with the process and plan to exit the grid late this year."

The Las Vegas Sands, which was also pursuing an exit, abandoned its application when it missed the deadline. But Ron Reese, a spokesman for the Sands, told the Las Vegas Sun the company would "remain active on the issue overall."

Wynn, MGM and Las Vegas Sands filed exit applications last year that would allow them to comparison-shop for better electricity rates and have more control over whether their power comes from renewable sources. Regulators said they could leave the monopoly utility company, but not without paying one-time "exit fees" of $15.7 million for Wynn and $23.9 million for Sands, with the potential of additional fees in the future.

Regulators say the casino companies' departures could leave the broader NV Energy customer base stuck with the bill for infrastructure that takes decades to pay off, and was built assuming the trio of companies — which account for 7 percent of the utility's customer base — would keep paying into the system.

The companies fought the charges but haven't been successful in changing them.

MGM said it plans to start buying electricity from another source by Oct. 1, but will keep paying to use NV Energy's infrastructure to transmit and distribute the power.

Staff members at the Public Utilities Commission are reviewing the exit application paperwork and are expected to release their findings within 30 days, according to commission spokesman Peter Kostes. Commissioners can then determine whether the companies are eligible to leave NV Energy, and the companies have 20 days after that to indicate whether and when they'll go through with their exit.

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