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Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen America, speaks during a panel discussion on immigration at the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 on Wednesday Aug. 23, 2017. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

The group pushing to increase Nevada’s renewable portfolio requirement will not take a position on a separate ballot initiative to break up NV Energy’s monopoly, progressive megadonor Tom Steyer said in an interview. After a speech in Reno to the AFL-CIO, which plans to announce endorsements today, Steyer pledged to remain neutral on the issue, even as pro-clean energy groups have taken sides on Question 3, the effort to create a retail energy market.

In late July, four renewable groups endorsed the Coalition to Defeat Question 3, which is being funded by NV Energy and wants to keep its monopoly as the state’s sole power supplier. They argued that creating a retail market would slow investment in renewable energy. Supporters of Question 3 have argued that a retail market would enable more renewable energy investment.

In the middle is Steyer’s push to increase the renewable portfolio standard. The separate ballot measure that Steyer is funding — Question 6 — would require power providers, including NV Energy, to meet a 50 percent renewable standard within their supply portfolios by 2030.

“We are trying really hard to stay neutral on Question 3,” Steyer said.

The Question 6 campaign sees the ballot measure as insurance for voters who care about clean energy but are split on Question 3 because it would apply whether Question 3 passes or fails. Question 3 supporters endorsed the renewable ballot in late July, and Steyer believes another endorsement could come from the opposing campaign, which includes the union.

“The funny thing is I think that ultimately there is a reasonable chance that both the opponents and the proponents of Question 3 may endorse us,” Steyer told reporters after his AFL-CIO speech. “I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but it’s at least conceivable.”

Disclosure: NV Energy has donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
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