Reminders of the Enron scandal and California’s rolling electrical blackouts from the turn of the century play key roles in a new ad by a group opposing the Energy Choice Initiative.
The ad is entitled “California’s Mistake,” and is part of a multimillion dollar advertising campaign by the Coalition to Defeat Question 3, which warns that Nevada could follow the path of California, which partially deregulated its electric markets in 1996 and subsequently faced an electric supply crisis and rolling blackouts four years later.
“California tried electricity deregulation and found out it’s a costly mistake,” the ad states. “It led to higher rates, rolling blackouts, consumer fraud and the Enron energy resale scandal, costing Californians billions.”
A law partially deregulating California’s electric markets signed in 1996 is viewed as a major contributing factor to the state’s rolling blackouts in 2000 and 2001, allowing energy wholesalers to game the market and artificially limit electric supply.
If approved by voters in 2018, the Energy Choice Initiative would constitutionally require the state to drop its current electric monopoly model and move to a competitive retail electric market by 2023. It’s been almost entirely financially supported by the Las Vegas Sands and Switch, and opposition to the group has been nearly entirely funded by NV Energy, which has already reserved $12 million in ads opposing the ballot question.
The ad itself also cites a new supporter — the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation, which announced Thursday that it would oppose the ballot question over fears of how it would affect operation of the state’s rural electric cooperatives.
“Nevada farmers and ranchers depend on affordable, reliable electricity, and we are deeply concerned that Question 3 could possibly put our families, businesses and communities at risk,” federation president Bevan Lister said in a statement. “Question 3 has the potential of hurting rural electric cooperatives that many of our farmers and ranchers rely on for daily operations, whether it’s to run irrigation systems that keep crops growing or to help farmers maintain healthy livestock.”