November 6th of 2018 may prove to be a historical moment in the lives of Nevadans and solar power in the Silver State. Two important measures are being voted and what you decide will sway the outcome.
Question 3: Deregulation of Nevada Electricity
Currently, Nevada is a semi-regulated state. Over the years NV Energy has become its primary electric provider. Question 3 on the ballot for November 2018 may change this. If Nevadans vote yes for question 3 Nevada will have to change to a deregulated market by July 1, 2023. In this new market, customers would get two separate bills.
One bill would be for grid upkeep. Another bill would come from your electric provider of choice. Although the majority of Nevada voted for question 3 in 2016 many are unsure now. After further speculation, many aren’t sure that question 3 is the right move. To better determine where you stand we have gathered arguments from both sides of the debate.
Arguments Against Nevada Question 3
Question 3 Might Undermine Nevada’s Renewable Energy Goals. One of the biggest fears is that it might hinder Nevada from meeting their renewable energy goals. They fear that competition wouldn’t guarantee quality metering policies.
If Question 3 is passed, NV Energy would most likely no longer be involved in the generation of electricity and would no longer be able to uphold AB 405. Although it is theorized that the new utilities could be forced by legislation or the PUCN to give customers net metering, this is still up in the air. Question 3 does not require new utilities entering the market to allow net metering.
Question 3 Would Benefit Large Corporations Instead Of Residential Customers
The fact that question 3 has gotten most of its support from billionaires makes many wary of their motives. Many fear that large corporations such as casinos would benefit far more than the average citizen.
States that adopted deregulation in the 1990’s had a steep learning curve. In theory, competition sounded great, but when Enron bit off more then it could chew it created a large mess that taxpayers had to clean up. Those opposed to question three would like to avoid making the same mistakes.
Unregulated Electric Rates Could Cause Issues
The Guinn center stated that several states have restructured their electric market. Often in these markets, customers aren’t aware that the rates they are promised can change at the utility’s whim. Those that oppose question 3 fear that these fluctuating rates will hurt customers more than help.
It is also argued that state caps meant to help the market move into deregulation are actually detrimental. Many companies can’t survive on the set rates. When the cap expires and they bump up their rates to a price that keeps them out of the red customers then get upset.
Mending the Nevada State Constitution Is Slower Than Legislative Fixes
Question 3 on the ballot for November will change Nevada’s state constitution. According to Ron Knecht, the current state controller, question 3’s intentions are good, but its medium is flawed.
Knecht stated that as of right now Nevada’s legislature already has the power to implement all the good requirements of this measure. The problem is that if question 3 is enacted making any necessary changes to the constitution will be a long tedious process. Making corrections along the way through Nevada legislation can be done relatively quickly.
Arguments For Nevada’s Ballot Question 3
It can drive Nevada rates down In the long run. Although there were some bumps in the process for states that have adopted deregulation There are states that are having success with it. Texas deregulated utilities which have been in place for 16 years now has rates that are below the national average.
Allows Consumers to Choose Their Electric Supplier
Those that are for energy choice argue that customers would now have the ability to choose. They want to be able to choose a different supplier if they are being treated unfairly or want different services. Choosing your electricity would be similar to choosing which grocery store or local farmer you want to get your produce from.
The PUCN Would Regulate A Market Instead Of A Monopoly
It is also argued that question 3 doesn’t dismantle all of the PUCN’s authority to regulate utilities. According to advocates, the PUCN would be regulating a market instead of one company. They also state that there are now market manipulation regulations in place that prohibit Enron repeats.
Renewable Generation Is More Dependent On Policy Than Model
The Guinn voter information guide found that renewable policy has more sway than market type. Utilities, in general, don’t want to pay their customers for their excess power.
When the PUC penalizes utilities they are more likely to help their solar customers. Those that are for question 3 argue that renewable energy will still be an option for Nevadans.
Question 6: Percentage Of Renewable Resources In Nevada
Question 6 on the ballot will raise the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). RPS’s require utilities to use a percentage of renewable energy.
If utilities don’t hit these standards they get fined. In response, utilities provide incentive programs to their renewable generation customers. In exchange, Utilities take the credit for the customer’s renewable energy source.
The current Nevada standard is set for 25 percent by 2025. If this measure is approved in November and again in 2020 the RPS will increase to 50 percent by 2030.
This standard will increase a little every couple of years until 2030. In 2022 the standard will increase to 26 percent. 2024 will increase to 34 percent, 2027 will increase to 42 percent and 2030 will increase to 50 percent.
Arguments Against Nevada Question 6
There hasn’t been a lot of opposition to increasing the renewable portfolio standard. Upwards of two million has been invested in the support campaign. Nothing has been invested in the opposition campaign.
In June of 2017, Governor Sandoval opposed the increase of RPS in Nevada. He found raising our renewable energy standard commendable, but the timing not ideal.
Arguments For Nevada Ballot Question 6
In the United States, there are currently 29 states with renewable standards in place. Among these states, some have decided to be more aggressive about their goals.
Increasing renewable generation is great, but some areas are better for renewable energy than others. The founder of NextGen Climate Action stated, “It turns out Nevada is the Saudi Arabia of solar energy in the United States, and Arizona is number two. Between the two of them, they could actually produce enough energy to produce enough electricity for the whole United States.”
Question 6 if passed will allow Nevada to strive toward this vision. Those that are for this measure see it as a step toward a brighter future.
Energy Ballot Questions Effect On Solar Customers
Those that currently have solar get to enjoy net metering and NV Energy rebates. These incentives result from utilities trying to avoid fines for not hitting the RPS.
These goals give utility companies a reason to help their solar customers. Increased mandatory state goals guarantee utilities will continue to incentivize their solar customers.
What Solar Customers in Nevada Should Expect If Question 3 Passes
The outcome of question 3 is less predictable. If passed NV Energy’s role would change. As a result, they would not be liable to uphold AB 405.
Implementation of question 3 isn’t determined. Which means no one knows what to expect.
Are Solar Panels a Good Option Now in Nevada?
Not knowing for sure what question 3 will bring has bread uncertainty in the minds of many Nevadans. The question isn’t whether solar will get booted out of the state again. Rather it is if Nevadans should wait out the storm or get on the bandwagon before the final vote.
You need to make this decision for yourself, but here is the conclusion we have come to. The AB 405 gives solar customers fixed rates for the next 20 years. These rates, however, will change as more renewables come online.
If Nevada politicians want to help Nevadans they will protect current solar customers. Who you get your net metering through may change, but you will still get it through someone. Getting solar now ensures that regardless of what happens you will have a better rate than if you waited.