Nevada ballot initiative seeks to break NV Energy monopoly with retail choice
- A group called Nevadans for Affordable, Clean Energy Choices has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would allow customers to choose their energy providers by 2023, potentially ending NV Energy's monopoly in the state.
- The news outlet also reports a second measure filed last week would roll back changes to Nevada's net metering rules, reversing course after new fees went into effect this year.
- The amendments come as three large casinos have been pressing to leave NV Energy's service in search of cheaper power; the state, however, has given approval contingent on $125 million in exit fees, designed to lessen the impact on other consumers.
- Paul Caudill, president and CEO of NV Energy, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the proposal did not surprise him, but at the moment the utility has no opinion on the amendment.
Two proposed constitutional amendments in Nevada could significantly alter the utility landscape there, including one which would undo the monopoly structure by bringing in retail choice within seven years.
“I’m not surprised at all, and I don’t think anyone should be surprised,” Caudill told the Review-Journal. “It’s a very complex issue and we’re in no position right now to take a position."
Under the proposed amendment, any business, resident or entity in the state would have "the right to choose the provider of its electric utility service" — whether that be directly from a utility, through a competitive market, or by producing power themselves.
The proposal comes as large customers are seeking to leave the utility's service. MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts have received approval to leave Nevada Power's service, but it may not be worth the price. Regulators signed off on fees of almost $87 million for MGM, $24 million for Sands and almost $16 million for Wynn.
But in a request for reconsideration, Sands told regulators the exit fees "effectively denied" its plan, along with other conditions.
A second amendment seeks to return Nevada's net metering regime to previous rates before new fees for solar customers went into effect.
Last year, regulators signed off on a new solar net metering rates that decreases the rate paid to rooftop solar customers for the power they export to the grid, while also creating a separate rate class for all small commercial and residential net metering customers as well as a time-of-use pricing option.
The new rates will also increase the monthly charge for NV Energy customers with rooftop solar from $12.75 to $17.90 per month in the first year of the phased increase, and they will eventually reach $38.51 at the end of five years.
Backers of both initiatives need to garner roughly 55,000 signatures by June 21 to land a spot on the November ballot. But because the energy choice intitiative is a constitutional amendment, voters will have to approve it twice — in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
- Las Vegas Review-Journal Initiative proposes breaking up NV Energy monopoly
Follow Robert Walton on Twitter