Nevada Attorney General Announces Recent Court Decisions Will Save Nevada $200 Million

December 18, 2014

Las Vegas, NV – Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced today the impact of two court decisions relating to the collections of use tax from power companies’ use of coal in Nevada. 

On Tuesday, Dec. 15 Carson City District Judge James T. Russell ruled that Southern California Edison (SCE) was not entitled to state refund on coal purchases from use taxes it paid to the Nevada Department of Taxation for the period of March 1998 through December 2000.  With added use tax and interest accrued over the last 12 years, the refund would have been over $100 million.  Russell’s decision followed an eight-day bench trial in January. His decision was stayed pending a Nevada Supreme Court ruling on a similar case involving Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power Companies’ appeal of a Washoe District Court ruling.

The Nevada Supreme Court, on Dec. 4, denied Sierra Pacific Power Company dba Nevada Energy’s claim for a refund of $90 million.


In 2002, Southern California Edison sought a refund of $23,896,668.08 in use taxes it paid to the Nevada Department of Taxation for coal consumption from March 1998 through December 2000.  Southern California Edison paid the use tax on its purchases of coal burned to generate electricity at the Mohave Generating Station in Clark County, Nev. The Nevada Department of Taxation first denied Southern California Edison’s refund request in 2002.  The Nevada Tax Commission approved the refund in a meeting that was closed to the public.  The Attorney General’s Office brought an action to void the Tax Commission’s decision as the decision was made in violation of the Open Meeting Law.  SCE filed a Complaint in the First Judicial District Court after being denied the refund in a subsequent Tax Commission hearing.

NV Energy simultaneously sought a $25,932,735 tax refund for the use taxes it paid on coal purchased between April 2002 and October 2006. NV Energy appealed the Nevada Department of Taxation’s denial through a petition for judicial review with Second Judicial District Judge Janet Berry. Berry denied the request at which point NV Energy appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

This case was prosecuted by chief Deputy Attorney General Gina Session and Senior Deputy Attorney General Andrea Nichols.  

To read the First Judicial District Court decision, click here. To read the Nevada Supreme Court decision, click here.