Fact Check on No on 3’s “Solar and Rates” Ad

Rooftop Solar in Nevada

By Dave Chase, Executive Director of Nevadans for Affordable, Clean Energy Choices

In this ad, the No on 3 campaign (sole funder: NV Energy ) argues that Question 3 would ‘eliminate’ Nevada’s rooftop solar program and shut down plans for six major solar energy plants. Below we discuss the major claims made in this ad and provide facts and analysis.

We rate this ad: FALSE

Claim: “Question 3 would: Dismantle and deregulate Nevada’s electric system”

Fact: Question 3 simply requires the Nevada legislature to create an open, competitive energy market. Here is the text of the question:

Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the establishment of an open, competitive retail electric energy market that prohibits the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity?

We see no evidence this ballot measure would dismantle Nevada’s electric system.

As for deregulation, Dr. Meredith Levine from the Guinn Center who wrote a 100-page report on Question 3, told KNPR, “The first thing voters need to know about the ballot measure is it is not deregulation. Deregulation implies that regulations for the market would be removed. In reality, the change would mean a diversified system with the potential for more choice.”

Claim: “Question 3 would: Eliminate Nevada’s rooftop solar program”

Fact: The ad cites a report by the PUCN, which does not at any point say Question 3 would eliminate Nevada’s rooftop solar program. In fact, we were unable to find any evidence to support the claim that homeowners would be unable to install rooftop solar on their homes.

The No on 3 campaign has made a related claim that Question 3 would threaten Net Metering (the process by which rooftop solar owners sell energy back to NV Energy) in Nevada. This however is false. Question 3 specifically protects existing renewable energy laws, stating, “Nothing herein shall be constructed to invalidate Nevada’s public policies on renewable energy, energy efficiency and environmental protections or limit the Legislature’s ability to impose such policies on participants in a competitive electricity market.”

Not only does the specific language of Question 3 protect rooftop solar, the Legislature has already passed AB 405, which reestablished Net Metering and includes language to protect the practice in a competitive energy market. Section 28.7 of AB 405 specifies that “[i]f the Legislature provides by law for an open, competitive retail electric energy market,” any provider of electric service in Nevada is deemed to be a utility and must comply with the net metering laws:

“Each person providing electric service in that service territory shall be deemed to be a utility for the purposes of NRS 704.766 to 704.775, inclusive, and sections 27 to 29, inclusive, of this act.”

Claim: “Question 3 would: Shut down plans for solar projects designed to double Nevada’s clean energy production”

Fact: The ad points to plans from NV Energy, the company who would lose their monopoly if Question 3 passes, to build six new solar power plants. But NV Energy told the Review Journal that it will, “drop the plans if the Energy Choice Initiative on November’s ballot, known as Question 3, passes.” Therefore, it is NV Energy, not Question 3, that would shut down solar projects in Nevada.

On the contrary, Question 3 is projected to bring more clean energy to Nevada. The best way to determine this is to look at the choices of those with energy choice already. Utility-scale solar is the fastest growing choice among commercial customers. MGM, Switch and Wynn are examples in Nevada who have chosen solar.

Other states’ experiences with Energy Choice demonstrate that Energy Choice does not slow a state’s progress toward a clean energy future. According to PV Magazine in July 2018, “[Energy Choice in] Texas’ electricity market in 2002 is widely seen as an important factor enabling the state to become the wind capital of the United States.”

About Dave Chase

Dave Chase is Executive Director of the Nevadans for Affordable, Clean Energy Choices, a coalition of nearly 1,000 small businesses focused on bringing Energy Choice to Nevada. He also served as a Chief of Staff to a Nevada Member of Congress and in senior roles on half a dozen U.S. Congressional Campaigns.