Nevada votes to end NV Energy monopoly

Amidst an exodus of Vegas' biggest casinos from NV Energy, a ballot vote solidifies the movement to market deregulation. Source: NV Energy

Receiving almost three quarters of the votes, Nevada voters have passed a ballot measure that aims to break up NV Energy’s monopoly and liberalise the electricity market to more competition.

Known as the Energy Choice Initiative or Question 3 on a ballot approved on Tuesday, the news is a victory for solar as this is a significant move to deregulation of the state’s public utility.

The ballot question read: 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?

The measure was initiated in part by large companies, including casinos, wishing to break free from the state utility and find their own providers. Backers of the amendment have argued that this measure will allow for both lower rates and greater reliance on solar power.

While the initiative received an overwhelming majority vote, it must pass through another round of voting in 2018 before it becomes a constitutional amendment. If it passes a consecutive vote in 2018, the legislature will be required to establish the legal framework for a deregulated electricity market by 1 July 2023.

If the campaign ultimately succeeds, Nevada would join the likes of New York, Texas and other solar-rich states where consumers and businesses are free to choose their own electricity provider. 

Mass exodus

The measure was set in motion as casinos and other large companies sought to leave NV Energy but balked at the extortionate exit fees imposed by state regulators. According to local reports, Las Vegas Sands casino and data company Switch were chief financial backers of the ballot measure.

MGM Resorts, owner of 10 properties on the Vegas Strip, decided earlier this year that in the interest of more control and flexibility over its power supply, it would leave NV Energy. MGM paid an exit fee of nearly US$87 million for the right; and were closely followed by Wynn Resorts, who will pay approximately US$17 million to exit.

Win for renewables

The flight from the state public utility places greater emphasis on investment in renewable energy. The tension between ‘going green’ and pleasing a utility who needs revenue to maintain the grid left many power companies exasperated. As utilities feel the pressure of less revenue, subsequent rate increases follow in what is known as the ‘death spiral’.

Now, many companies who exited the monopoly are free to innovate. MGM this year expanded the 8.3MW Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino solar array.

In addition, the initiative being ultimately approved could essentially mean that solar companies become recipients to state subsidies, due to a deregulated environment. An uptick therefore might be seen in future as more solar companies return to Nevada. After the public utilities decision on net metering in 2015, SolarCity and Sunrun decided to leave the state, claiming such subsidies were integral to company profit.

SolarCity welcomed the news of the measure passing its preliminary vote.

“Yesterday, Nevadans showed they are ready to once again lead the nation in solar and clean energy innovation. By voting ‘yes’ on the Energy Choice Initiative, Nevadans have overwhelmingly shown that they want a well-regulated, competitive energy industry, which will create more clean energy options for consumers,” said chief policy officer Jon Wellinghoff.

“We look forward to working closely with governor Sandoval, the legislature, and other stakeholders to develop future energy laws and regulations that protect consumers, our environment, and our economy.”

The initial passing of the vote infers that the interests of Nevada’s biggest energy consumers are in line with residential consumers; with all in favour of a deregulated market that promotes progressiveness, renewables integration, and energy independence. 

4 October 2022
Solar & Storage Finance USA, the only event that connects developers to capital and capital to solar and storage projects, will be back in November 2022.
11 October 2022
PV CellTech Extra will be held as a series of live webinars and on-demand sessions on 11-13 October 2022. We'll be taking a slightly further forward-looking view at the technologies and roadmaps for new cell architectures set to dominate mass production during 2023-2025 with special emphasis on the potential timelines for technologies beyond the single-junction cell design, including perovskite and hybrid concepts.

Read Next

September 22, 2022
The RE+ tradeshow has been full of hope, excitement but also short-term questions as the industry considers the significance of the IRA.
September 22, 2022
Qcells has heightened its commitment to the global solar supply chain as its parent company, Hanwha Solutions, increases investment in clean raw materials.
September 22, 2022
Wood Mackenzie has repeated warnings that module supply shortages are set to persist until the end of 2023.
September 21, 2022
Cost certainty, reducing wait times and more flexible agreements with utilities are crucial to solving the US’ interconnections problems that are holding the country back from reaching its renewables targets
September 20, 2022
From module makers and BOS producers to utility-scale developers and community solar companies, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has taken centre stage at this year’s RE+ in Anaheim, California.
September 20, 2022
Microinverter supplier Enphase Energy is witnessing soaring demand for its products in Europe for self-consumption as the continent’s energy crisis is increasing causing people to look to residential solar PV

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
September 27, 2022
15:30 AEST (UTC +10)
Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
On-Demand Webinars, Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event
Upcoming Webinars
October 18, 2022
10am (EDT) / 4pm (CEST)