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February 20, 2017

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Lawsuit seeks to quash initiative to end NV Energy monopoly

A lawsuit asks a Carson City court to invalidate the Energy Choice Initiative, a November ballot measure seeking to end NV Energy’s monopoly and create a competitive electricity market.

Opponents are not challenging the initiative’s placement on the ballot this year but are using the case as a preemptive measure to block it from appearing on the ballot again in 2018. For the measure to pass, voters would need to approve it twice.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, argues that the initiative is improper because instead of enacting specific legislation, it would unlawfully bind future Legislatures to create a competitive electricity market by 2023.

The suit was filed by Jacqueline Sue Bird and Gail Tuzzolo, an AFL-CIO lobbyist who created a political action committee — No Handouts to Billionaires — to oppose the Energy Choice Initiative.

Supporters of the initiative, funded by a group of large businesses, called the lawsuit “a desperate, political stunt to block the right of Nevadans to vote on their own economic freedom.”

A deadline to block the initiative on the November ballot passed several months ago.

The Nevada State AFL-CIO opposes the Energy Choice Initiative, claiming a competitive electricity market could raise rates for residential customers.

NV Energy has said it will remain neutral.

With a competitive market, NV Energy would no longer have the sole responsibility of sourcing and supplying electricity to Nevadans, but it would continue to operate the grid. Energy customers, from big businesses to households, could choose their own electricity supplier.

Backers of the initiative argue that other open markets have been shown to drive down rates, create more opportunities to deploy renewable energy and give customers more choice to decide where their power comes from.

The Energy Choice Initiative has received funding from Las Vegas data company Switch, Las Vegas Sands Corp. and MGM Resorts International. Tesla has said it also supports the effort.

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