Nevada Electricity Deregulation Ballot Measure Passes, Long Road Still Ahead

Ben Faulkinberry

Voters in the state of Nevada passed the Energy Choice Initiative yesterday, with 72.4 percent of voters casting ballots in favor of the measure. The Energy Choice Initiative seeks to amend Nevada’s state constitution, allowing electricity users to both choose a retail electricity supplier and to generate electricity for themselves. The language of the proposed amendment extends the right to choose to “every person, business, association of persons or businesses, state agency, political subdivision of the State of Nevada, or any other entity in Nevada”.

No change is currently imminent, as the initiative must pass muster with voters again in 2018. Nevada law requires citizen-initiated amendments to the state constitution to pass twice. Should voters approve the measure again in 2018, Nevada’s lawmakers would be required to enact laws opening a competitive energy market in the state by July 1st, 2023. 55,000 signatures were needed to place the initiative on this year’s ballot.

Yesterday’s outcome is a concrete step towards the deregulation of electricity supply in the state. Transmission and distribution systems are not explicitly affected by the measure. Proponents of the measure included Senator Harry Reid, environmental groups, solar providers and large electricity users in the state.

Nevada’s total electric load is roughly comparable to the already-deregulated state of Connecticut, but has a higher percentage of industrial-scale end use.

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