- Nevada voters will be able to decide on energy deregulation and rooftop solar issues in the November general election after the secretary of state announced questions regarding those issues have been cleared to appear on this year's ballot.
- The Energy Choice Initiative proposes to amend the state constitution to give consumers the ability to choose their electricity supplier. The second proposal, put forward by a rooftop solar coalition, gives voters the option of restoring more favorable net metering policies for solar power.
- The net metering proposal must withstand a legal challenge now pending before the state’s Supreme Court over whether the proposal qualifies as a referendum or is, as a lower court ruled, an initiative that would have to go to the legislature before it could be put on the ballot.
Nevada has become a battleground in the war over solar power policies.
Last year, lawmakers were working on a new incentive program to replace retail rate net metering, when the state's residential solar caps were met ahead of schedule. Pushed by utility NV Energy, regulators subsequently lowered net metering rates for both exisiting and new rooftop solar customers — a decision now being contested by a solar industry group.
Even a proposal to put the solar incentive question before voters is proving to be controversial.
A Carson City District Court judge earlier this year ruled against a solar group seeking to put the net metering issue on the November ballot. The matter is now before the state’s Supreme Court, but if the lower court prevails, voters would not see the proposal until 2018.
Voters will have the option, however, to challenge the franchise of NV Energy, which was one of the opponents of the state’s net metering policy. If the Energy Choice Initiative passes in the November election, consumers would be free to shop for electricity suppliers.
That is an option that large consumers, such as some casino operators in Las Vegas, favor.
One of the biggest backers of the initiative is casino operator Las Vegas Sands, which supports electricity choice. 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.