Lawsuit seeks to stifle Nevada energy choice ballot initiative

Dive Brief:

  • Lobbyists for the AFL-CIO have filed a lawsuit to block efforts to end NV Energy's monopoly and give retail choice to Nevada customers, the Las Vegas Sun reports. 
  • In November, voters will weigh in on an Energy Choice Initiative that would amend the state constitution to give customers the ability to choose their electricity supplier. But as the Las Vegas Sun notes, the measure must be approved twice to go into force, and the lawsuit targets the second ballot initiative for 2018. 
  • NV Energy has said it will remain neutral on the ballot measure, but has also issued a set of "key principles" to promote discussion.

Dive Insight:

Voters will decide on the Energy Choice Initiative next month, regardless of the lawsuit, as the deadline to block that initiative passed months ago. But the energy choice question would need to be on the 2018 ballot as well, and that is the vote being challenged.

The Sun reported the suit was filed by the AFL-CIO lobbyist behind the political action committee No Handouts to Billionaires, which opposes the initiative.

Question 3 "would deregulate Nevada’s electric utility system, removing all limits on what providers could charge. Customers would have to buy their power on the open market and energy prices could go sky high," the group says on its website.

NV Energy has argued that any market changes the state makes must not leave it with unrecoverable investments.

"Investment decisions have been made by NV Energy and its suppliers based on the regulatory compact," the utility said in its principles document. "The key tenets of the regulatory compact must be honored, and investment-backed expectations must be recognized and respected."

Large consumers, such as some casino operators in Las Vegas, are supporting the energy choice question. One of the biggest backers of the initiative is casino operator Las Vegas Sands, which supports electricity choice and sought to leave NV Energy's service earlier this year, but said regulators' proposed fees hurt its plan to defect.In May, rival casino operator MGM Grand said it would pay almost $87 million to exit its NV Energy’s utility service in order to seek cleaner and cheaper suppliers of energy.

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Filed Under: Regulation & Policy