What Will Nevada’s Nevada’s Energy Market Look Like if a Deregulation Ballot Measure Passes in 2018?

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A committee, chaired by Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, and made up of lawmakers, energy experts and business representatives, has been established to determine elements of Nevada’s energy market if the deregulation ballot measure passes in 2018.  Issues include the market structure design, whether Nevada should enter the wholesale market and ending NV Energy’s monopoly. The proposed constitutional amendment needs to be approved by voters a second time in the 2018 election and would take effect in 2023.

The Nevada Independent
Contact: Michelle Rindels and Riley Snyder

While proponents of Question 3 point out that many other states have implemented retail electricity choice, much of that has happened on the East Coast — where there are already organized, regional wholesale markets.

Wholesale markets are where power plant owners and utility companies that are connected to the grid buy and sell energy at auction. Retail choice is when there are multiple companies selling that energy to the end-use customer, rather than just one possible supplier (such as NV Energy).

Committee members generally seemed to favor the idea of entering an open market compact, with Nevada having several options — joining California’s market, joining with other states in the region or starting a statewide wholesale market. NV Energy executive Carolyn Barbash estimated that the process of entering or creating a wholesale market could take anywhere between two to five years.

Questions linger about how ambitious renewable energy bills proposed by Democratic lawmakers would fit into a post-Question 3 market. AB206 would require 50 percent of the energy drawn into Nevada be produced by renewable sources, with a goal of 80 percent by 2040. An amendment seeking to make it more palatable exempts certain smaller electricity providers and delays the ramp-up period.

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