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April 21, 2015

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Governor vetoes controversial last-minute energy bill

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a controversial transmission line and energy bill that had been heavily pushed by the state’s most powerful lobbyists during the final hour of the 2011 Nevada legislative session.

Sandoval, in his veto message for Assembly Bill 416, expressed concerns about the potential impact on Nevada ratepayers and that the bill would allow NV Energy to circumvent normal approvals from the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.

“To increase utility rates on Nevadans struggling to emerge from a severe economic recession would result in the imposition of an unnecessary and unfair burden on our recovery,” he wrote.

The bill, critics said, could have put ratepayers on the hook for $1 billion in transmission lines so the utility could export power to other states, like California and Arizona. (NV Energy said that number “is simply not true.”)

But that provision, as well as two other controversial components, were tacked on to AB 416, which dealt with renewable energy incentives, in the final hour of the session.

NV Energy had made the transmission line legislation its top priority. But it was frustrated when it ran into road blocks in the Assembly. Hence, the powerful lobbyists it employs, who are also close to Sandoval, were brought in for the last-minute process.

In a statement Friday, NV Energy said, “While we believe AB 416 contained important energy policy regarding Nevada’s future involvement in renewable energy development, we respect the governor’s decision.”

As late as Thursday night, Sandoval said he was still deliberating what to do with the bill.

NV Energy had made the case that the transmission language was urgent to move the state forward to be an energy exporter. Other third-party companies said they are willing to build the transmission lines to California and Arizona, which have aggressive requirements to use renewable energy, but that AB 416 would have given the utility an unfair advantage.

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  1. Thank YOU, Governor Sandoval!

    It is amazing how NV Energy is now changing the numbers and story. Hummmm

    In reality, to put such a HUGE financial liability on the already struggling citizens of Nevada at this time is unjustifiable.

    If the project is such a hot deal, private companies or/and investors will come forward and it will happen, especially with the coming solar, wind, and geothermal plants going online!

    Since the good people in Clark County have no other power utility option than NV Energy, and it has a monopoly providing electric service to millions of homes, this bill places an unfair burden upon the People of Clark County.

    Good call Governor, you restored some of my faith in government. Not all though. :)

  2. Good for you! The "last hour" lobbiest game is criminal and should be recognized as such. My respects to you on this issue.

  3. Agree, thank you, Governor Sandoval!

    I don't know if there was a connection, but yesterdays RJ article about NV Energy have already signed a contract with a California company to build a windfarm around Ely and NV Energy selling the power back to California really got me good. So confident were they that they signed the deal. We pay, they profit. Perhaps I am wrong about this deal, but I assumed it was part of the reason for the $1 billion bill we would be paying on.

    I am totally disgusted with the negligence of the Legislature, and especially the leaders and promoters of this bill. They should be ashamed of themselves, their negligence and their efforts to bury the the citizens of this state in further debt.

    NV Energy has too much power, too much arrogance, and is a noose around our necks, in my opinion.

    Governor Sandoval did the right thing, and I will remember that when I am weighing the pros and cons when voting next time. His veto is in the plus column.

  4. Look at the stock price for NV Energy, NYSE:NVE. It's been going up steadily for the past 2 years. They are rolling in money, and won't stop until they squeeze EVERY penny they can from struggling Nevadans. This is what you get from a MONOPOLY.

    We also need to stay vigilant because the NV Energy fatcats will try to do this again... guaranteed!

  5. Mike Schneider, Senator for Clark County District 11, is the lapdog for NV Energy that tried push this bill through. On Nevada Week in Review this week, they also said that Schneider had the gall to say that an NV Energy lobbyist "owed him a bottle of wine for this" after it was added to the bill.

  6. For those that didn't read the original article about how this amendment got hammered through at the last minute. I want to send Schneider a bottle of p!$$ instead after reading this LOL.

    The original bill set renewable energy incentive standards, and had been hammered out in public meetings over the course of months. But the amendments did other things, including placing ratepayers on the hook for $1 billion in transmission lines, consumer protection advocates would later say.

    The major component of that amendment, which dealt with power transmission lines, was written by NV Energy and its lobbyists, Schneider would later confirm.

    Other parts of the bill, which made solar contracts with NV Energy confidential and allowed geothermal projects to more easily obtain tax breaks -- provisions which never received a hearing -- were written by other prominent lobbyists on behalf of their clients, and tacked onto the bill.

    But that wasn't mentioned in the rushed committee meeting.

    Instead, Schneider announced, "We got a new bill."

    "Are we going to have a hearing?" Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, asked sarcastically, glancing at the clock.

    "This is a terrible way to make policy," Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said.

    "No, it's a great way to make policy," Schneider replied.

    With no testimony -- other than a couple of shouted answers from an NV Energy lobbyist standing in the gallery -- and no reading of the language in the bill, Schneider's committee adopted his amendment in a party-line vote.

    "That's going to cost you a bottle of wine," Schneider joked with an NV Energy lobbyist.

    Within minutes, the new bill was on the Senate floor, where Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, declared it an emergency measure, freeing it from the rules adopted by the Legislature at the beginning of session to establish a fair and public process for passing new laws.

    Horsford's move allowed the Senate to take an immediate vote to adopt the amendment and send it to the Assembly, which it did.

    "I didn't even know what was in it until I read the paper the next day," said Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who grudgingly voted for it.

  7. Thank you governor!!!

    To Mr. Schneider:. Accepting a gift for getting a bill passed that's going to take money out of Nevadans pocket to enrich a company and it's co conspirator stock holders is a crime. I think it is called bribery! I'm definitely not going to vote for you. Hartsford too.... You guys selling us out so a private company can take advantage us ~

    Thanks again Governer!

  8. Absolutely positively....

    Gotta give the Guv prop's on this one...
    Credit where credit is due...
    Hey, NV Energy...SCREW YOU!!!

  9. Hey, We really need to be careful and very guarded when complementing this Governor. As an example: while folks were protesting, distracted over other things,this Governor pulls a very clever fast one, by putting himself in charge of ALL of Nevada's educational system!!!! Yep, read SB 197, here is the link:

    NO one opposed HIM.

    At this juncture, I am going to side with Airweave's comment. This Governor is very calculating and truly has an agenda that HE plans to carry through, hell or high water, folks.

    Other legislation,SB 229, to make parents and students responsible and accountable for what they get out of educational services through the "Parent, Teacher, Student Involvement Contract" continued to LACK ENFORCEMENT, was nothing but more lip service by our LAWMAKERS AND GOVERNOR.


    What a waste of taxpayer money! What an insult!
    So BEWARE!

  10. Governor Sandoval:
    Although I have disagreed with almost everything you've ever done (including run for office - and we still need to have a chat about you taking over our entire education system)I have to give credit where credit is due. You did a good job on this bogus energy bill. Well done!

  11. I am surprised the Gov actually did something for all of us, instead of for his rich friends. He still is following the other Republican Governors on their quest to take complete control over the educational system and all public sector employees by getting rid of the unions. The Republican agenda seems to be to eliminate Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They also are making it a point to protect their rich friends and corporations. Of course that is just my opinion and I could be wrong.