A dangerous ballot measure that was just introduced in Nevada could result in the elimination of jobs at NV Energy, and may undo the vital regulations that govern the state’s electric utility market.
“The secretive backers of this measure want voters to believe it’s about ‘energy choices,’ but in reality, it would help a handful of ultra-wealthy casino moguls get even richer, at the expense of Nevada’s working families,” said IBEW 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell. “If enacted, this sort of policy would inevitably result in significant layoffs at NV Energy, and could open the door to large-scale Enron-style deregulation of the energy industry in Nevada.”
The proposed measure was introduced on Feb. 3, 2016 by a new Political Action Committee that has to yet reveal any information about its agenda or its financial backers. The measure seeks to amend the Nevada state constitution in order to allow energy consumers to procure energy from other sources besides Nevada Energy.
Under the existing state law, there can only be one authorized electric utility company per service territory. Currently, NV Energy is the sole authorized electric utility provider, serving approximately 1.3 million customers throughout the state. If the measure is approved by voters in November, it would do away with the existing policy and leave it to the Legislature to provide a framework for other entities to enter Nevada’s energy market by July of 2023. Given the Nevada Legislature’s track record of deregulation, the end result of such a drastic policy shift could have untold consequences for every Nevada resident, and will almost certainly lead to job losses at NV Energy.
According to the petition filed with the Nevada Secretary of State:
“The People of the State of Nevada declare that it is the policy of this State that electricity markets be open and competitive … and that economic and regulatory burdens be minimized in order to promote competition and choices in the electric energy market.”
While no additional information is readily available about the backers of this measure, several news reports have linked the measure to three massive casino companies, which have recently sought to procure power from a source other than NV Energy.
The Las Vegas Sands Corp., MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts submitted a request to the state’s Public Utilities Commission to leave NV Energy in 2015 in an effort to find cheaper power elsewhere, and were informed by the PUC that they would have to pay exit fees and additional costs if they choose to do so. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal:
“The fees approved by the commission total $86.9 million for MGM, $15.7 million for Wynn and $23.9 million for the Sands, plus recurring fees and charges to recover certain ongoing costs that cannot currently be quantified. The exit fees were imposed by the commission to protect remaining Nevada Power customers. Nevada Power is part of NV Energy.”
The Sands Corp. told the PUC that the fees “effectively denied” the company’s plan to leave NV Energy, and it would come as no surprise to discover that they were behind this new effort which would give them the ability to leave NV Energy without having to pay those fees. Sands’ billionaire CEO Sheldon Adelson – the 18th richest person in the world — has a track record of backing political campaigns and measures that would negatively impact working class families in order to increase his own corporate profits.
According to the Nevada Secretary of State, the proposed initiative must receive 55,234 valid signatures from registered Nevada voters (including at least 13,809 signatures from each of the four petition districts) to qualify for the ballot. The measure can challenged in court before it is certified to appear before voters in November.
“If you are approached by someone asking you to sign the petition to qualify this measure for the ballot, please consider the ramifications,” said Dalzell. “The position of Local 1245 is that this measure is dangerous and we urge members to refrain from signing on to it.”