ORIGINAL REPORTING: Nevada's Question 3 pits retail choice against uncertainty in battle of billionaires
Nevada's Question 3 pits retail choice against uncertainty in battle of billionaires; Voters could pass a constitutional amendment that restructures the state's regulated utility, opens a competitive electricity market and subjects customers and lawmakers to hard questions.
Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 1, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Question 3 was defeated last November due largely to opposition by the utility and environmentalists.
Billionaire Warren Buffett and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson headline a $100 million feud between their Nevada business interests, but it's up to customers to choose their power system's future. The feud is over Nevada's Question 3 ballot measure, which would amend the state's constitution to establish a "competitive retail electric energy market" and prohibit "monopolies and exclusive franchises." Under it, the Buffett-owned NV Energy would be restructured and Adelson's Sands Hotel could buy power in a competitive market. NV Energy had spent over $63 million supporting the NO effort as of mid-October, according to the Nevada Secretary of State's website. The YES effort was largely backed with over $22 million from Sands and almost $11 millionfrom data center operator Switch. Spending was expected to accelerate as the campaign closed.
"We are trying to overcome spending by the opposition to provoke fear of restructuring," spokesperson for the Adelson-backed Energy Choice Initiative (ECI) Jon Wellinghoff, a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair, told Utility Dive. "It is hard to overcome lies about retail electricity choice when they are outspending us." The NV Energy-backed NO on Question 3 side is equally assertive. "This would only benefit large corporate energy users like the Sands and Switch," communications director Tracy Skenandore told Utility Dive. "Small business and residential customers will face more complexity, a threat to solar and potentially higher rates." Momentum gathered behind the “No” side as election day approached, as voter doubts grew about retail choice and the bigger question this election will answer: Do consumers in regulated markets want this kind of change? ...click here for more
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