ENERGY CHOICE - WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO THE POWER DISTRICT
March 19, 2018
Question: The Energy Choice Initiative will be on the November 2018 ballot. Why does the Power District care about this ballot initiative?
Answer: If Energy Choice passes again, it will not have much effect on operation of the Power District. The reason we care about this ballot initiative is that it will affect your rates for electric service.
In my February 13th article, I introduced the topic of the Energy Choice Initiative (ECI). This is the initiative that first appeared on the 2016 general election ballot and will again appear on the ballot this coming November. In my February post I indicated that if ECI passes again it will change the Nevada constitution, and it has the potential to radically change the way you receive electric service in the future. I also indicated that we would begin to delve deeper into what ECI will or will not do with future articles.
In this article I want to start by addressing one thing ECI will not do. People have asked me if I am concerned about Energy Choice because it will affect the Power District. I want to be clear on this, Energy Choice will not change the Power District. The Power District is a not-for-profit, general improvement district. We own no generation (other than the small solar garden in Panaca). We buy all of the energy needed in Lincoln County and bring it to your home or business over power lines that we own and operate.
Under ECI, we will no longer be the organization buying power for Lincoln County. Somebody else will be doing that. That new organization is called a Retail Energy Provider (REP). The Power District will continue to own and operate the Power Lines that bring the energy to your home or business. The proponents of Energy Choice call the organizations that own and operate the power lines Distribution Companies (DIS CO). In fact, the proponents of ECI on page 21 of their April 26, 2017 presentation to the Governor’s Committee on Energy Choice stated:
“Each local DIS CO provides vital services, including guaranteeing the reliability and safety of the grid. While ECI does not mandate changing the way DIS COS operate, DIS COS should not be REPs or POLRs, in order to assure a fair market. DIS COS continue to employ local utility workers, and the cost of this service is typically included as a line-item on each customer’s utility bill.”
Consequently, if ECI passes again we will become a DIS CO and will bill the Retail Energy Provider for the use of our power lines.
In short the Power District will continue to operate the same as we do today. We will continue to build and maintain power lines. We will continue to have a governing board, employees, bucket trucks, an office and a warehouse. We just won’t be the organization selling you power. An out-of-state, for-profit, business will.
Our concern about Energy Choice is not about our jobs and it is not about protecting our turf. In fact ECI would actually make the role of the Power District easier. We would just focus on building and maintaining power lines. Our concern is about what Energy Choice will do to electric rates in Lincoln County, Nevada. The bottom line:
Energy Choice, it will affect your rates.
Energy Choice, it won’t impact operation of the Power District.
More information on how ECI may affect your rates in future articles.
- David Luttrell, General Manager