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.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

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. 

27 June 2024
9am BST
FREE WEBINAR -This special webinar will take a deep dive into the latest PV ModuleTech Bankability Ratings pyramid, capturing the relative bankability status of the top 70-80 PV module suppliers globally. In addition to revealing the latest ranking of global PV module suppliers, PV Tech’s Head of Research, Finlay Colville, will show the depth of analysis and commentary included within the report for module suppliers. A key output from the webinar will be to learn which PV module suppliers have moved up the rankings pyramid in recent years and why this growth has been achieved. Conversely, some of the companies that have fallen down the rankings will be discussed, in particular those suffering from market-share losses and financial problems.
8 October 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.
26 November 2024
Málaga, Spain
Understanding PV module supply to the European market in 2025. PV ModuleTech Europe 2024 is a two-day conference that tackles these challenges directly, with an agenda that addresses all aspects of module supplier selection; product availability, technology offerings, traceability of supply-chain, factory auditing, module testing and reliability, and company bankability.
11 March 2025
Frankfurt, Germany
The conference will gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing out to 2030 and beyond.
17 June 2025
Napa, USA
PV Tech has been running PV ModuleTech Conferences since 2017. PV ModuleTech USA, on 17-18 June 2025, will be our fourth PV ModulelTech conference dedicated to the U.S. utility scale solar sector. The event will gather the key stakeholders from solar developers, solar asset owners and investors, PV manufacturing, policy-making and and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out the PV module supply channels to the U.S. out to 2026 and beyond.

Read Next

June 21, 2024
UAE state-owned renewable energy developer Masdar has reached an agreement to buy 67% stake in Greece's Terna Energy.
June 21, 2024
NextEra Energy Resources has begun construction of a 310MW solar PV plant in Texas, US, offering power to INEOS Olefins & Polymers USA.
June 21, 2024
LONGi has announced a commercial M6 size wafer-level silicon-perovskite tandem solar cell with 30.1% efficiency at Intersolar Europe 2024.
June 21, 2024
Solar PV is expected to generate 20% of global power across midday peaks on the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, up from 16% in 2023.
June 21, 2024
PV Tech Premium talks to Nextracker president Howard Wenger about the company's business, expansion plan and R&D spending. 
June 21, 2024
US community solar developer Summit Ridge Energy and PV manufacturer Qcells have extended their module supply partnership.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
July 2, 2024
Athens, Greece
Solar Media Events
July 9, 2024
Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Warsaw, Poland
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Singapore, Asia