Electric Choice Comes To Nevada

Nevada’s electricity industry is about to be transformed. Before Electric Choice, Nevada residents could only purchase electricity from the electric utility. Now, the power of choosing energy suppliers will be in the hands of utility customers themselves. And this could potentially cut down the costs of electricity.

In November this year, voters will decide whether Nevada becomes the next state to deregulate its electricity market. If this particular amendment passes, residents will have the right to select retail electricity suppliers (with a competitive rate) by 2023.

This deregulation debate in Nevada was initiated by the Energy Choice Initiative (formerly Nevadans for Affordable, Clean Energy Choices) in 2016. The group filed a measure with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to disband utility monopolies in Nevada.

The Nevada Energy Choice Initiative amassed 72 % of the votes cast to approve it through the (Ballot) Question 3. Question 3 is an amendment in the constitution that would radically amend the long-standing and regulated Nevada IOU (Investor-Owned Utility) utility model. This measure fundamentally eradicates energy monopolies while also establishing competitive electricity (retail) market. However, the Nevada law also mandates for the initiative to also pass in 2018-as was in 2016.

As opposed to other deregulated states like New York and Texas, the Nevada initiative is slightly different since it mandates for a constitutional amendment. An amendment in the Nevada Law must pass two distinct votes before being included in the constitution.

Since the first round in 2016 successfully passed with 72 % of the total votes, the vote in November 2018 is the ultimate step towards adopting energy deregulation in the state of Nevada.

The debate surrounding the second Ballot in November.

Although the Electric Choice Imitative is pushing for the deregulation of the entire Nevada state, the PAC, however, is mainly focused on ending the NV Energy monopoly in the state. Being the largest utility in Nevada, boasting over 1.3 million clients, NV Energy controls both energy delivery as well as maintenance in Las Vegas. Significant corporations in Las Vegas like Wynn Resorts Ltd., and MGM Resorts International have already also voiced their intention to ditch NV Energy and subsequently pursue alternative sources of energy instead.

The supporters and advocates of the project alike are convinced that providing the consumers with retail electricity options will bring down the energy rates and also boost services. In fact, no one would dish out more resources for electricity if they need not.

In contrast, the opponents of this Initiative are however concerned that as a consequence of deregulation, customers are likely to get lower quality from electricity suppliers especially those in rural areas not to add significant job loss. According to Mt. Wheeler Power Inc., manager, Mr. Randy Ewell, who is opposed to the move, Nevada boasts among the most affordable energy rates in the country. (The average (Nevada) residential rate ranks #29 in the USA).

The voters have all the power.

Joe Reynolds, the PUC Chairman in Nevada, urges voters before the poll to take into consideration all the implications of this milestone move. His concerns are primarily that with deregulation becoming a constitutional amendment, it would subsequently prevent lawmakers from overriding legislative statutes or voters’ decision in the future. According to him, this vote means erecting a post that Nevada cannot go back from.

In the coming days, the NPUC will be seeking to conduct several workshops designed to assist the voters to understand the full scope of a deregulated energy market and its implications. Both opponents and advocates alike are voicing their opinions to ensure that the voters make informed decisions come November.