Why Switch Created the Energy Choice Initiative — A New Energy Future for a New Nevada Economy

By Rob Roy, Switch Founder & CEO


One truth in today’s world is that tech­nol­o­gy and inno­va­tion wait for no one. We are all wit­ness­es to tech­no­log­i­cal advances that touch every sin­gle aspect of our lives, occur­ring at such a fast pace that it is often hard to tru­ly com­pre­hend. One con­stant in tech is that change will con­tin­ue to hap­pen faster and faster. Our state has a choice to be ahead of this change—anticipating it, mold­ing it, cre­at­ing pol­i­cy to sup­port it, or find our­selves left behind.

The future of the new econ­o­my and there­fore the future of the New Neva­da is inex­orably tied to tech­nol­o­gy. The inter­net of every­thing is going to affect…everything. The infra­struc­ture sup­port­ing the future of tech­nol­o­gy will be built on two fun­da­men­tal pil­lars that are essen­tial to its suc­cess: com­pet­i­tive­ly priced con­nec­tiv­i­ty and com­pet­i­tive­ly priced pow­er. There will be a hand­ful of states that will embrace hyper-scale tech­nol­o­gy infra­struc­ture and will become the super hubs of future tech inno­va­tion. These states will cre­ate envi­ron­ments to sup­port the two essen­tial ser­vices that are run­ning the equip­ment that in turn runs every­thing else.

I have spent the last decade and a half cre­at­ing the world’s most com­pet­i­tive­ly priced tele­com coop­er­a­tive right here in Neva­da, the Switch CORE. Because of Switch, a com­pa­ny can con­nect from Neva­da to any­where else in the world at pric­ing that is unmatched by any oth­er gate­way loca­tion. These ser­vices at Switch are why hun­dreds of the world’s largest enter­prise com­pa­nies have moved their pri­ma­ry data cen­ter envi­ron­ments to our facil­i­ties here in Neva­da. The Switch ecosys­tem isn’t just in the top 10 loca­tions in the world to pur­chase tele­com ser­vices, it is wide­ly regard­ed as the num­ber one loca­tion in the world to pur­chase these essen­tial busi­ness solu­tions.

The Switch CORE solved the first part of the equa­tion, com­pet­i­tive­ly priced tele­com. To start the move­ment to address the sec­ond part, com­pet­i­tive­ly priced pow­er, Switch cre­at­ed the Ener­gy Choice Ini­tia­tive (ECI). Inno­v­a­tive tech hubs will not grow where pow­er prices are not com­pet­i­tive when com­pared to the oth­er 49 states. Advanced tech­nol­o­gy ecosys­tems will only grow in the states that have the best-priced pow­er envi­ron­ments. With recent changes in solar tech­nol­o­gy and dra­mat­ic decreas­es in the cost of cre­at­ing pow­er per­pet­u­al­ly deliv­ered by the sun, Neva­da is poised to become the undis­put­ed leader in solar pow­er pro­duc­tion. I believe Neva­da has the unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to become the num­ber one state at com­pet­i­tive­ly pow­er­ing and con­nect­ing the growth of the inter­net of every­thing.

The Ener­gy Choice Ini­tia­tive was cre­at­ed to guar­an­tee every Nevadan the right to choose their ener­gy options, and ensure that the cur­rent monop­o­lis­tic ener­gy provider sys­tem could no longer exist. On Novem­ber 8th, the more than 783,000 Nevadans who vot­ed to approve the Ener­gy Choice Ini­tia­tive made sure their opin­ions mat­tered. They did it by a record set­ting mar­gin of 72 per­cent. No oth­er bal­lot mea­sure in the last two decades has enjoyed the lev­el of sup­port that Ques­tion 3 did when all of the bal­lots were count­ed.

Approval of Ques­tion 3 by such an over­whelm­ing mar­gin proves that the peo­ple of our state want change in the ener­gy pol­i­cy for the future of Neva­da. They want to move for­ward with posi­tion­ing our state as a leader of tech­nol­o­gy inno­va­tion, renew­able ener­gy devel­op­ment and com­pet­i­tive clean ener­gy pric­ing through a well-reg­u­lat­ed, open ener­gy mar­ket. There can be no New Neva­da with­out a New “Ener­gy” Neva­da.

Energy Choice: The Right Thing To Do

Neva­da is now poised to devel­op the plan to imple­ment a for­ward-look­ing ener­gy pol­i­cy that embraces today’s ener­gy pro­duc­ing tech­nolo­gies, sup­ports sus­tain­abil­i­ty and ends the monop­oly that is no longer in the best inter­est of the peo­ple of our state. Cen­tral to this pol­i­cy are the key prin­ci­ples that pro­tect con­sumers. This includes the prin­ci­ple that more clean ener­gy, low­er bills and improved ener­gy effi­cien­cy should be avail­able to all con­sumers equal­ly, from indi­vid­ual low-income users to the largest indus­tri­al cus­tomers. Addi­tion­al­ly, I am com­mit­ted to ensur­ing that any restruc­tur­ing pro­tects exist­ing res­i­den­tial cus­tomers, espe­cial­ly fixed-income Nevadans, so that they are not left with increased costs when the state tran­si­tions to a new, well-reg­u­lat­ed, open ener­gy mar­ket.

At Switch, we are already build­ing the new 180-megawatt Switch Sta­tion 1 and Switch Sta­tion 2 solar farms to pow­er our com­pa­ny with 100 per­cent renew­able ener­gy. Switch will be shar­ing 10 per­cent of the pow­er pro­duced by our ener­gy projects at cost to res­i­den­tial end users to start enabling every Nevadan to low­er their pow­er bill using the sun. Local IBEW and more than 500 of its mem­bers are work­ing to build that project. This new job cre­ation for elec­tri­cal work­ers is just the begin­ning, and with the pas­sage of the Ener­gy Choice Ini­tia­tive, Neva­da could more than dou­ble the num­ber of clean ener­gy jobs in the state over the next sev­er­al years.

It takes strong part­ner­ships to bring about this kind of vision and ECI is con­tin­u­ing to receive sup­port statewide. From Las Vegas Sands and the Clean Ener­gy Project to MGM Resorts and the Sier­ra Club, Wolf­gang Puck Din­ing to the Neva­da Con­ser­va­tion League, and from Val­ley Elec­tric Asso­ci­a­tion to Win­nemuc­ca Farms, all joined more than a hun­dred oth­er busi­ness­es and union lead­ers like the Laborer’s Local 872 to help move the Ener­gy Choice Ini­tia­tive for­ward. Switch is proud to have brought togeth­er this impres­sive group of thought lead­ers in our state.

The Next Steps

Pas­sage of Ques­tion 3 by more than 70 per­cent unde­ni­ably is a man­date for imme­di­ate change in the 2017 Leg­is­la­ture. I would like to focus on a dif­fer­ent rea­son for imme­di­ate ener­gy choice and free­dom solu­tions in this next leg­isla­tive session—the need for “we the peo­ple of Neva­da” to do the right thing for our econ­o­my. We must part­ner togeth­er with all due haste to cre­ate the essen­tial infra­struc­ture that will not only pow­er the future of the New Neva­da, but also the future of the new world.

I would like to chal­lenge every res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial user of elec­tric­i­ty along with every pol­i­cy­mak­er to rec­og­nize that tech­nol­o­gy and inno­va­tion will wait for no one, and that we are at the precipice of Neva­da becom­ing a true tech­nol­o­gy infra­struc­ture hub of the future. Work­ing togeth­er in the next leg­isla­tive ses­sion we can real­ize these ben­e­fits for our state imme­di­ate­ly, and ensure that the many oppor­tu­ni­ties to expand our cur­rent busi­ness­es and bring addi­tion­al eco­nom­ic pil­lars into our state nev­er pass us by.

Ener­gy choice presents a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty for our state’s future and I sin­cere­ly look for­ward to work­ing close­ly with you to real­ize its vision and full poten­tial

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