What Nevada can learn from its attempt (and failure) to deregulate the energy market in the 1990s
Riley Snyder, The Nevada Independent - When Nevada voters head to the polls in 2018, they’ll be given the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the state’s energy market and end NV Energy’s monopoly control of electric service.
But what voters may not know is that Nevada came close to doing the same thing almost 20 years ago.
The state flirted with, but never consummated, a transition away from a standard regulated monopoly structure to a competitive, retail electric market in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Despite thousands of man-hours and countless hearings in front of the Legislature and Public Utilities Commission, state leaders ultimately backed away from the effort after watching California’s energy market implode and lead to mass rolling blackouts across the state.
But all of that aborted planning and work may not have been in vain — as Nevada policymakers have begun taking steps and looking to the state’s prior deregulation attempts to prepare for the possible passage of a ballot question that would require the state to adopt a retail energy market structure by 2023. The measure — backed by casino giants MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands, as well as former Sen. Harry Reid — passed overwhelmingly in 2016 by 72 percent to 28 percent, and few serious political opponents have emerged in the meantime.