Environmental groups oppose energy choice ballot initiative
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A ballot measure that would break up a monopoly in Nevada by electric utility NV Energy and instead create to a competitive market would hamper clean energy efforts, according to four environmental groups.
Those groups — the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project and Western Resource Advocates — announced Thursday that they oppose the initiative.
“Right now, NV Energy has big plans for new solar infrastructure, and the rooftop solar market is quickly recovering, but that may all change,” said Anne Macquarie, the chair of the Sierra Club’s Toiyabe chapter, which covers Nevada.
The ballot initiative would replace NV Energy’s monopoly in the state with a market where residents and businesses could choose their provider. It already passed once by Nevada voters in 2016 with nearly three-fourths of the vote, but it must be approved by voters again this year in order for the change to be made to the state constitution.
Scott Rutledge, a spokesman for the campaign supporting the initiative, disputes the environmental groups’ claims.
Rutledge said the Nevada Conservation League, which he used to run, fought for years with NV Energy to expand clean energy and close its coal-fired power plants.
“This is the same monopoly utility that eliminated rooftop solar a couple of years ago,” he said. “Energy Choice will lower Nevadans’ power bills through competition and vastly expand Nevada’s renewable energy resources.”
Robert Johnston, an attorney with the Nevada arm of the Western Resource Advocates, said NV Energy has “changed course” on clean power and is planning to double solar-generated electricity by 2023. Upending that would bring “a cloud of legal and regulatory uncertainty that could chill the development of new renewable projects by anyone else over the next 4-5 years,” he said.
A group opposing the initiative also sided with the environmental groups.
NV Energy, which also opposes the ballot initiative, has donated to at least one of the environmental groups: The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project lists NV Energy as one of its sponsors on its website.
Another group, the Sierra Club, has clashed with NV Energy in the past, having for it to close its last coal plant sooner than 2025 and filing a lawsuit in 2013 over waste from a plant, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported .
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com