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Mining, cattlemen associations come out against energy choice ballot question

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Solar field in Nevada

The Nevada Mining Association and Nevada Cattlemen's Association have announced their opposition to the proposed Energy Choice Initiative on the 2018 ballot, becoming the latest industry groups to formally come out against the proposed constitutional amendment.

The mining association, which represents more than 450 mining companies including Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining, along with the nonprofit cattlemen’s trade association announced Monday that it plans to join efforts to defeat the ballot measure, which if passed would require Nevada to set up a retail electric market by 2023.

Although the mining association didn’t weigh in on the ballot measure in 2016, when it was approved with 72 percent of the vote, the association said they decided to formally oppose the measure as it does not provide “sufficient assurance” that rates for residential and industrial customers would stay flat or decrease in a residential market, and that any uptick in electricity prices could have a “devastating” effect on their business model.

“Nevada mines are still recovering from record losses in mineral values while costs to operate continue to climb and the timeframe to permit a new mine extends into ten years,” trade association president Dana Bennett said in a statement. “Question 3 will create substantial uncertainty for both industrial and residential ratepayers. Adding another layer of uncertainty to the challenges already faced by miners at this time would be irresponsible.”

Similarly, the state’s cattlemen's association said in a statement that they were opposing the ballot question over fears that it would open up rural areas of the state — which are predominately served by nonprofit electric cooperatives — to instability.

“We are deeply concerned that Question 3 would put Nevada’s cattlemen and our rural communities at risk,” association president Sam Mori said in a statement. “Question 3 would raise electricity rates and harm the rural electric co-op’s that Nevada farmers, ranchers, and cattlemen depend on for reliable electricity in these hard to reach areas."

Opposition to the ballot question has been largely funded by NV Energy, the state’s primary electric utility, and has been bolstered by recent endorsements from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and four pro-clean energy organizations.

Supporters of the ballot measure, including the Las Vegas Sands and Switch, have contributed more than $19 million to supporting the ballot question since the start of 2017. NV Energy has expended more than $12 million to the political action committee opposing the measure, and has promised to spend up to $30 million to defeat it.

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

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