Voting Yes on ballot Measure 3 in November could put the Hoover Dam at risk as a source of power for many eastern rural Nevada residents who have depended on affordable power from the Colorado River for over 80 years.
Lincoln County Power District general manager Dave Luttrell said recently, as he has campaigned strongly against Measure 3, that a Yes vote, “would put hydroelectric power from the dam at a large risk in Lincoln County, as well as much of rural southeastern Nevada. One of our biggest concerns about it centers on the fact that there is not a whole lot in this measure that will benefit Lincoln County or rural Nevada.”
Hoover Dam is a federal facility and requiring Nevada to buy all of its power on the open market means Hoover Dam will not be available anymore to the rural utilities that depend on it now.
Proponents of Measure 3 have placed ads in both electronic and print media, and have made statements at public meetings, to dispel what are claimed to be myths put forth by the “No on 3” campaign.
Luttrell spoke about some of what the coalition in favor of the Energy Choice Initiative is promoting.
One claim is that the initiative will not lock in a “risky experiment” as a new amendment to the Nevada state constitution.
“That’s exactly what it does,” Luttrell said. “You can’t easily go backwards with a constitutional amendment.”
Also, it is claimed that “Yes on 3” will not force Nevada to join California’s electricity grid.
“Here again,” Luttrell said, “there is a lot of risk to vote Yes because we just don’t know all the answers. What they are not saying is that there simply is no other choice but the California wholesale marketplace power grid.”
Some humorists have noted that voting Yes would be like former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) telling Congress in 2010 that the Affordable Care Act “needed to be passed, so you can find out what’s in it – away from the fog of the controversy.”
Countering the claim that power rates will not skyrocket by if Measure 3 passes, Luttrell said, “This is a claim that cannot be backed up by real figures. It happened that way in every other state that has tried the Energy Choice Initiative [ECI]. Rising costs lasted for about 10 years before coming back down in some places, Texas in particular. But the ECI is making assumptions it won’t happen in Nevada without really knowing for sure. Again, the high risk factor.”
Nevada state senator Pete Goicoechea of Eureka, an outspoken opponent of Measure 3, has said if the measure passes and goes to the courts and legislature, “I don’t have a lot of faith that legislators in Carson City would be able to handle well how to implement the system. I hope I would be able get a seat on that committee, if the measure passes.”
Another opponent is the state Public Utilities Commission report that came out earlier this year, which stated that Measure 3 would not be a good choice for the state. It would raise rates.
“Thus, the ECI will find every opportunity to debunk that report,” Luttrell said.
He noted, “Measure 3 supporters are going to areas with their promotions where there is something they want. They are bypassing Lincoln County, because there is nothing here they want, i.e., the small local business, residential customers, and retirees. But in White Pine and Eureka County, as well as the more populated counties, they want the major corporate businesses, large load businesses, and the mines.”
He said, “There is little to no interest for a group such as the Retail Energy Suppliers Association, a trade association, that know there is no money in selling power in Lincoln County, but they most definitely want what is in White Pine and Eureka counties.”
Goicoechea, whose district includes Lincoln, White Pine, and Eureka counties, said in a telephone interview with the Record that the measure “would probably be an advantage to the largest loads in the state, but not small rural coops such as Lincoln County Power, Mt. Wheeler Power, Overton Power, and others.”
He said, “Even mining companies have not been in support because they recognize the need to have the distribution and transition lines in place. They would probably disappear if we go to a deregulated open market. And who is going to maintain the transmission lines if you are buying power on the open market? If a line goes down or a transformer goes out? The big-load users, like casinos and big stores, can afford that, but not the little guy in the true rural areas. Deregulation would probably work where you might have 1,000 consumers in a square mile, but certainly not with one consumer and 100 miles of line to deliver that power to him. No way cheaper rates can be promised there.”
Goicoechea believes a growing number of people are realizing Measure 3, as is, “just won’t work.”