Nevada Voters Choose Electric Power Competition

H. Sterling Burnett,

Voters in Nevada overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that would open the state’s electric power market to retail competition.

Currently, in Nevada, as in many states, utility companies have monopolies within their respective geographic service areas, with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission, regulating utility prices and other terms of service. In Nevada, this monopolistic structure has resulted in one company, NV Energy, controlling 90 percent of the state’s electric power market in 2016.

Question 3, on the ballot, referred to as the Energy Choice Initiative, would open Nevada’s electric power market to retail competition from other providers, ending the near monopoly held by NV Energy.

Question 3 stated: Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the establishment of an open, competitive retail electric energy market that prohibits the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity?

With 783,120 voters saying yes to the initiative compared to 299,160 opposing it, Question 3 passed by a wide margin on November 8, 2016.

Supports Innovation, Jobs, Choice

In addition to ending NV Energy’s monopoly, the Las Vegas Review Journal reports, supporters also say Question 3 would result in, “greater innovation, job creation, and new renewable energy technologies.”

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Concerning renewable power, ClimateWire reports the Bring Back Solar Alliance, supported the initiative.

“The current solar rules aren’t working,” said Chandler Sherman, deputy campaign director for the Bring Back Solar Alliance, to ClimateWire, in October. “Restructuring the market will allow for the innovative new energy sources we want to embrace”

Because of features unique to Nevada’s constitutional amendment process, Questions 3 will have to be passed by voters a second time in the 2018 general election to become law.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., (hsburnett@heartland.org) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

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