On the Nevada Ballot: Regulations on the Energy Market

Showing up on Election Day prepared is your responsibility as a Nevadan voter. It’s every voter’s duty to have an informed opinion about each proposed measure on Nevada’s ballot and to make an educated decision based on the best interests of the state. If you don’t know the details about Question 3 regarding Nevada energy choice initiative on the November 8, 2016, Nevada ballot, here’s an overview.

The Nature of the Initiative

The Nevada Legislature to Minimize Regulations on the Energy Market and Eliminate Legal Energy Monopolies Amendment, better known as The Energy Choice Initiative or simply Question 3, is an initiated constitutional amendment. This means it must undergo the initiative process to become an amendment to Nevada’s state constitution. The Nevada provision for initiated constitutional amendments states that voters must approve the movement in two even-numbered election years. Thus, Question 3 must pass with a majority “yes” vote in this year’s election and again in 2018 to amend the state constitution.

Question 3: Changing Nevada’s Energy Monopoly

Currently, NV Energy holds a monopoly for Nevada’s energy industry, which services more than 1.3 million consumers. Nevada law allows utility companies to establish monopolies in their geographic service regions, while the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada regulates prices and energy policies. This system of state-imposed monopolies was originally meant to encourage the development of an electrical infrastructure. Citizens who put The Energy Choice Initiative together assert this system is dated because energy production is more efficient and affordable when companies provided it through the market.

Question 3 is designed to guarantee energy customers the right to choose their own energy providers and produce their own for resale. This guarantee would be inserted directly into the Nevada Constitution. If Question 3 passes into law in 2018, Nevada legislature would have to pass laws by 2023 that open the energy market to competition. An open, competitive retail energy market would prohibit electric energy monopolies and exclusive franchises for generating electricity.

What Would Change if Question 3 Passed?

If passed into law, Question 3 would exist as an amendment to Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution. Question 3 would add three blocks of text to the article:

  1. Declaration of Policy. The official declaration of policy from the people of the State of Nevada would state that electricity markets are open and competitive, allowing customers to make meaningful choices among several different providers. The Declaration would also state the minimization of regulatory and economic burdens to promote market competition.
  2. Rights of Electric Energy. This text states the right of every individual, business, or other entity in Nevada to choose its own electric utility service provider from a competitive retail market. Entities also will have the right to product their own electricity. The law will not force entities to purchase energy from one provider.
  3. Nevada legislature must provide this Act’s provisions no later than July 1, 2023, opening the electric market to competition. Upon this date, all other provisions and laws conflicting with this Act would become void.

In essence, a “yes” vote on Question 3 supports inserting these three texts into Nevada’s Constitution. A yes vote pushes for an open, competitive retail electric energy market, minimization of energy market regulations, and elimination of energy monopolies such as NV Energy. Supporters of Question 3 believe the initiative would lower Nevada’s energy costs and open the market for renewable types of energy.

People in opposition of the policy state that it would result in major layoffs at NV Energy, as well as loss of control by citizens. The official argument against Question 3 uses the deregulation of the energy market in California, which resulted in the blackouts and power outages, as an example of what could potentially happen in Nevada if Question 3 passes.