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Nevada Votes “Yes” on Electricity Deregulation

November 10, 2016

Yesterday, Nevadans voted to amend the state’s constitution and initiate legislature that would open a competitive electricity energy market. Currently, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission regulates utility rates and utilities are allowed to establish monopolies based on their respective service areas. The legislature would get rid of the present monopoly system.

Under the legislature, “every person, business, association of persons or businesses, state agency, political subdivision of the State of Nevada, or any other entity in Nevada has the right to choose the provider of its electric utility service, including but not limited to, selecting providers from a competitive retail electric market, or by producing electricity for themselves or in association with others, and shall not be forced to purchase energy from one provider. Nothing herein shall be construed as limiting such persons’ or entities’ rights to sell, trade or otherwise dispose of electricity.” Utilities would still charge for the delivery of electricity, but customers would be able to buy their electricity supply from third-party suppliers.

The 72 percent “yes” vote on Question 3 fell in line with projections from a few weeks ago. Under Nevada law, however, a ballot initiative that amends the state’s constitution must be approved in two consecutive elections, so it must win in 2018 as well. If approved, Nevada would need to pass laws by July 1, 2023 to open competitive markets. The “yes” vote reinforces a recent trend in deregulation across the country. More and more customers have bought their electricity from a third-party provider instead of their local utility to reap lower, competitive prices. Utilities face weaker power demand and competition from new efficient and renewable technologies.