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.

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