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February 13, 2018

The Choice:  Option 1 - Your locally governed, not-for-profit,community based Power District.

                     Option 2 - An out of state, for-profit, investor owned retail energy provider.

                     Choose wisely.

From March 2018 Ruralite Article

 If you are like me, you probably don’t remember all of the candidates and initiatives that were on the 2016 general election ballot.  However, one of those ballot measures has the potential to radically change the way you receive electric service in the future.  That measure was listed as question 3 on the 2016 ballot.  It is also called the “Energy Choice Initiative.”    If you recall, question 3 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 explanation of the question on the ballot further stated that a “Yes vote would amend Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution so that the Legislature would be required to pass a law by July 1, 2023, that creates an open and competitive retail electric market and that includes provisions to reduce costs to customers, protect against service disconnections and unfair practices, and prohibit the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity.”

 Who could vote against a ballot measure that seems to imply electric costs could be lower by simply voting yes, and in fact few did.  Statewide the measure passed with 72.4% in favor and here in Lincoln County it also saw many people voting yes with 54.7% in favor.  However, to amend the Nevada constitution, a ballot question must pass twice.  Therefore, the exact same ballot question will appear on the general election ballot next November. If it passes again, it will then take effect.

Since 2016 I have spoken with many in Lincoln County about the first election trying to understand the reasons why so many voted yes.  What I have learned is that, first many felt that the change being proposed by the amendment would only apply to the folks served by the big investor owned utility in Las Vegas, and second most did not understand what they were voting for.  The first point is easily addressed.  Question 3 is a proposed constitutional amendment that affects everyone in Nevada.  Make no mistake about it, if the Energy Choice Initiative passes next November it will impact Lincoln County.   The second point will take a little longer to address.  In the next few editions of Ruralite I will try to provide a complete picture regarding the impacts of the Energy Choice Initiative on Lincoln County.  My goal is to make sure that you understand the implications of your vote and how question 3 could change Lincoln County Power District and your electric service.

To begin, it is important to understand where this ballot question came from.   As with any ballot measure, somebody has to develop the language of the initiative and collect the signatures required to get it placed on the ballot.  In the case of the Energy Choice Initiative, this was largely done by a political action committee identified as Nevadans for Affordable Clean Energy Choices.  As reported in the February 5th edition of the Nevada Independent funding for the work has “…largely been bankrolled by a handful of major Southern Nevada companies, primarily the Las Vegas Sands ($2.35 million) and Switch ($1.7 million), with smaller donations coming from the Valley Electric Association ($100,000) and MGM Resorts ($10,000). Retired Democratic Sen. Harry Reid also endorsed the measure.”  It is clear from the list of proponents, this measure did not originate with residential customers, small businesses, ranchers, farmers, or anyone from rural Nevada for that matter.  In fact Republican state Senator Pete Goicoechea, one of rural Nevada’s good friends at the state house, recently stated his opposition to the Energy Choice Initiative. 

In the next edition we will delve deeper into what question 3 will or will not do.  In the meantime if you have questions or if you would like to arrange for me to speak at a community or church group regarding the Energy Choice Initiative, please call the office.  As I close this month I can’t help but wonder if the authors of the Energy Choice Initiative believe power costs in rural Nevada will decrease, or just the power costs of casinos and data centers (Switch is a major data center) if the Energy Choice Initiative passes again? 

David Luttrell, General Manager

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