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Brooks’ bill would short-circuit energy choice

CARSON CITY — Going against the will of 72 percent of Nevada voters isn’t a wise idea, but that’s not stopping Assemblyman Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas.

Less than five months ago, 72 percent of Nevadans voted for Question 3, a constitutional amendment that would create a path for Nevadans to choose the company that provides their energy. As a constitutional amendment, voters must approve it in 2018 as well. Its 44-point margin of victory means the measure earned significant support from Democrats, Republicans and Independents. An open and competitive energy market is a bipartisan winner.

That’s why AB206, sponsored by Brooks, is so concerning. It would mandate that Nevada obtain 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, with the goal of obtaining 80 percent from renewable sources by 2040.

While the constitutional amendment permits mandates like those in AB206, this is like telling someone he can now go to any restaurant he wants, but half the order must be French fries.

The point of energy choice is that consumers can choose what they value most. Some will be willing to pay more for energy that comes from 100 percent renewable sources. Others just want cheap power.

One lobbyist summed it up well, “AB206 is the antithesis of choice.”

AB206 proponents love to talk about how cheap solar energy is becoming, but their actions belie their rhetoric. Once solar energy is cheaper than coal or natural gas power and able to produce consistent power, mandates won’t be necessary. Cheaper products don’t need the force of government to make consumers want them.

Until then, give Nevada voters what they want — true choice in the energy market.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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