Monopoly utilities are often seen as the chief obstacles to renewable energy. And there is certainly evidence of this, as utility monopolies in the Deep South and elsewhere have been among the last to deploy large volumes of renewables, and the most implacable foes of distributed generation.
As such, deregulation – the legal breaking up of utility monopolies to create a competitive retail electricity market and/or to separate generation and retail sale of power – has been broadly hailed as an aid not only to consumers, but renewable energy as well. Germany’s competitive electricity market has supported renewable energy deployment, and the deregulation of Texas’ electricity market in 2002 is widely seen as an important factor enabling the state to become the wind capital of the United States.
This makes it all the more curious that four environmental groups have now come out against a measure that would deregulate Nevada’s retail electricity market, an effort backed by Tesla, SolarCity and a number of large energy consumers who have signed contracts with renewable energy projects.
Question 3 would change the Nevada constitution to enshrine the right of Nevadans to have a choice as to who they buy power from. It is supported by Governor Brian Sandoval (R) and U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D), as well as MGM Resorts, Switch and Walmart, all of whom have deployed and/or contracted with large amounts of renewable energy. In fact, MGM Resorts is one among a number of casino holders that have paid large sums of money to be free from NV Energy’s monopoly and to contract power from renewable energy installations directly.
And yet Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Western Resource Advocates and Southwest Energy Efficiency Project all came out against Question 3. And while the first three of these organizations are more known traditionally for being environmental groups, all have played a substantial role in clean energy advocacy in the past decade.
In a statement released last Thursday, the organizations express the concern that Question 3 could “disrupt the state’s progress towards a clean energy future.” Specifically, the organizations argue that a deregulated market could interrupt NV Energy’s commitment to procure 1 GW of renewable energy, and could “introduce uncertainty into the state’s recovering rooftop solar industry”.
“Question 3 has been sold to voters as a way to get more renewable energy online in Nevada, but it will actually make it more difficult,” declares Dylan Sullivan, senior scientist at NRDC. “There will be years of market uncertainty as the legislature figures out how to implement complex restructuring, and even after that, electricity retailers have shown a reluctance to sign the long-term contracts it takes to get new renewables built.”
It is notable that this position is a recent declaration, which raises the question of whether or not these organizations would have taken this position were it not for the plans announced by NV Energy in late May to procure 1 GW of solar and build 100 MW of batteries.
This could have been a move to stave off deregulation, given that the utility has been under continual pressure from large electricity consumers such as data centers and casinos to allow them to contract with more renewable energy, and the heat that it has taken from the temporary dismantling of net metering, which has since been re-instated.
And from pv magazine’s perspective, if the battle between NV Energy keeping its monopoly and the creation of a deregulated electricity market means more deployment of solar, we all win.
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If the goal is JUST the deployment of solar, then I agree that it’s a win-win. If the goal is to modernize the grid and increase distributed generation, then it’s definitely a loss for rooftop solar. It’s pretty smart of NV Energy to divide and conquer like this, given that what they really fear is the deployment of rooftop solar because it might end their monopoly hold on solar power.
It’s disappointing to see smart people fall for this rather transparent ruse, however. Here’s hoping Nevadans are smart enough to see this power play for what it is instead of ceding their electricity future to a monopoly that doesn’t have their best interests at heart.
As a rooftop array owner in Nevada I’ve witnessed, first hand, the political outrage and see-saw effect of the whims of our PUC and NV Energy colluding together. Their primary misstep was not grandfathering in existing net-meter customer rules when cavalierly slashing rates of pay back in 2014. Their collusion sorely miscalculated the anger and political will of we thousands of existing customers.
On the one hand I fear the ruse of the carrot and stick vanishing at the defeat of the initiative. On the other hand NVE’s short term gain having a guaranteed 10% ROI will be substantial if billions are invested.
I’m personally not convinced of the invincibility of a competitive market keeping rates down when there will be no such thing as the dream of a more free market coming to pass. That’s a pipe dream if ever there was one. I think I’ll throw in with the now wiser PUC and it’s control over NVE. The political winds will always be fickle, but so can the ruse of manipulated competition.
I’m no blind free marketer by any stretch of the imagination, and if you think the PUC can do an effective job of regulating NV Energy, then I say more power to them. I just worry that all the control of solar will eventually be in NV Energy’s hands, leaving them free to hammer people like you with “fixed charges” and other anti-competitive strategies because they don’t like the fact you’re producing you’re on power.
Maybe I just have a dim view of utilities because I live in First Energy’s territory and am still paying, in my own little way, for their stranded assets at two nuclear plants. But if there’s an orderly way to grow rooftop solar while leaving NV Energy in power, then it works for me. I just hope rooftop solar doesn’t get stifled by anti-competitive behavior by NV Energy
#2014 was a lesson learned we should have went on this vote then as well stop letting them drive our state into the ground #2018 #YesOn3 we need change now !!!!
Valid point Frank. I just think anti-competitive forces are so pervasive, this utopia of a free market can’t possibly exist. Call me whatever, but I’ve seen how the pressure of politics has worked against the PUC like the grist of a grindstone.
Nevada energy is opposed to cheaper rates for consumers which is why they’ve done all they could to get rid of the solar companies out here. Vote yes on. Prop 3 this November!
This seems very much like a company with a monopoly struggling to maintain its power. After reading up on the issue it seems fairly clear that the benefits of voting yes on question three far outweigh any potential cost.
It’s very unfair to just have one main big monopoly company. I thought we learned this in school? Monopoly companies are never good. Isn’t that against the law to basically obligate someone to do something, will this is like the same scenario. People are being obligated to being a consumer of a company just because there isn’t other companies.
Let’s be real with the issue monopoly is Bad #YesOn3
How can anyone not vote Yes on 3. Isn’t the whole point of our
country to have open competition
Vote YES on Prop 3! It’s all about making our own choices and not being forced into the best interests of big business.
Why did we allow nv energy to become a monopoly ! Let’s stop it # yes on 3
I just thought you all should know that NV Energy is bringing in people from outside Nevada, and paying them, to distribute “NO on Question 3” flyers throughout Las Vegas NV. I met one of them today. He was a very nice 18 year old kid who had been flown in from Mississippi.
Today was his first day on the job. He dropped a flyer at my door and rang my doorbell. He was very polite. All of his answers were “yes sir”, “no sir”. I asked him for the name of the company he was working for. He said it was called F.E.S., but never provided me with the full name. He also started to say something about it being a Republican organization, but then stopped himself suddenly as if he realized he wasn’t supposed to say that.
The flyer he was distributing states at the bottom that it is PAID FOR BY NEVADANS FOR RELIABLE, RENEWABLE AND AFFORDABLE ENERGY.
Yet, here it was being distributed by an 18 year old kid who had been flown in from Mississippi for the express purpose of delivering it. This has a rotten smell about it. Someone should look into it. The development where I live has a sign that says “no soliciting”, so technically the group he is working for is breaking the law.
Anyway, if the forces of NV Energy want to defeat Question 3 this badly, to the extent that they are willing to fly in people from outside Nevada to canvass our state………it only makes me want to vote “YES” on Question 3 that much more !!
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