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Nevadans Elect to End State’s Utility Monopoly

November 10, 2016 By Cheryl Kaften

A full 72 percent of Nevada voters supported a ballot initiative on November 8 to deregulate the state’s energy market, according to a report by Governing Magazine.

In the weeks leading up to the referendum, voters “overwhelmingly” said they’d support a ballot initiative to “deregulate electric energy in Nevada”, according to a poll by Rasmussen Reports – and in doing so, create an open market for consumers with a choice of utility service providers.

The vote represents a defeat for NV Energy, which is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and has a monopoly in the state. In 2015, two  casinos – MGM Resorts International, and the Las Vegas Sands – bet big bucks that they would save more than the required utility exit fees if they terminated their relationship with NV Energy and bean powering their operations with natural gas and renewable energy.

Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate and Republican mega-donor, doesn’t often agree with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, the outgoing Congressional Democratic majority leader. But this year, they teamed up in an attempt to break up Nevada’s electric monopoly, the magazine reported.

Under deregulation, electric companies would compete for business with retailers, rather than simply operating as monopolies in their service areas and charging rates set by state regulators.

Although voters backed the plan, it will not take effect any time soon, the magazine said.  In order for the amendment to pass, voters would have to approve it again in 2018. Lawmakers would then have five years to overhaul the electric utility law.

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