Lawsuit charges energy choice initiative illegal

A lawsuit has been filed in Carson District Court seeking to invalidate the statewide energy choice ballot question whether or not the voters approve it November 8.

The suit was filed by Las Vegas lawyers Bradley Schrager and Daniel Bravo on behalf of two voters, Jacqueline Bird of Lyon County and Gail Tuzzolo of Clark County.

Question 3 is intended to deregulate the energy market in Nevada. It “directs the Legislature to enact legislation providing for the establishment of an open, competitive electricity market by not later than July 1 2023.”

That, according to the complaint, exceeds what an initiative can do in Nevada.

“The people, acting in their legislative capacity through the initiative power, cannot bind or commandeer the legislative activities or deliberations of future Legislature,” it states.

The complaint says the initiative would bind the Legislature as well the governor, mandating they enact specific legislation. That, it says, “is an unlawful use of the initiative power in excess of the legislative power reserved to the people by Article 19 of the Nevada Constitution.”

To become law, the question would have to be approved in two consecutive elections. The complaint concedes there’s no time to resolve the issue before the upcoming election, now just three weeks away, but if the question is approved by voters, asks the court to enjoin the Secretary of State from allowing it on the 2018 ballot.

Supporters collected signatures to put the energy choice question on the ballot, saying Nevada’s electric energy market is a monopoly that needs to be broken up. Between them, NvEnergy, which owns both Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific Power, provides all the electric power in the state except for that generated by a couple of power stations owned by major mining companies.

Karen Griffin, spokesman for Nevadans for Affordable Clean Energy Choices, termed the lawsuit a political stunt filed months after the deadline for challenging an initiative.

She pointed out more than 120,000 Nevadans signed the petition — more than double the number needed to put it on the ballot.

“Question 3 is backed by leading Nevada-based companies such as Switch, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and MGM Resorts,” she said.

Opponents, however, have charged only large corporations can benefit because individual homeowners don’t have the practical ability to go outside NvEnergy for their power.


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