CARSON CITY — Three petitions — seeking to restore favorable net metering rates, open Nevada’s electricity markets to competition and exempt medical equipment from the sales tax — have qualified for the November general election ballot, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske said Tuesday.
The energy competition measure, which would amend the state constitution and require two favorable votes in November and in 2018, will be Question 3.
The medical tax measure, also a constitutional amendment requiring two votes, will be Question 4.
The referendum to restore Nevada’s more favorable net metering rates for rooftop solar customers will be Question 5. This measure still must withstand a legal challenge now underway before the state Supreme Court. The court will hear oral arguments in the challenge on July 29. The question is whether the proposal qualifies as a referendum, a process whereby voters would decide whether to support or reject a law passed by the Legislature.
A Carson City District Court judge ruled earlier this year that the measure is not a referendum but an initiative, which would have to go to the Legislature first in 2017 before it could go to the voters in 2018. The Supreme Court will make the final determination.
Each measure needed 55,234 signatures from registered Nevada voters by June 21 to qualify. The signatures were then verified by the state’s county clerks.
The energy choice petition was financed primarily by casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. to amend the constitution to open Nevada’s electricity markets to competition.
The constitutional amendment, which goes by the name Nevadans for Clean Energy Choices, seeks to abolish NV Energy’s monopoly as Nevada’s electricity utility and allow consumers to choose how they get their power by 2023.
The initiative states that any business, resident or entity “has the right to choose the provider of its electric utility service,” whether that be from a competitive retail electricity market or by producing electricity for themselves or with others.
The net metering referendum would restore Nevada’s net metering program to more favorable rates for all rooftop solar customers if it wins a place on the ballot and voters approve. If it does get on the ballot and is approved, rooftop solar companies would likely return to Nevada and begin installing systems for customers because the credit for excess electricity generated from the panels would make them financially viable.
The Nevada Public Utilities Commission earlier this year adopted a new rate class for rooftop solar customers who earn credits for the excess electricity their panels generate. The new, less generous rates have brought the rooftop solar industry in Nevada to a standstill.
The medical devices measure would require that certain types of equipment, including durable medical equipment, mobility enhancing equipment and oxygen delivering equipment, be exempt from the sales and use tax. The petition was filed by Douglas Bennett, who owns Bennett Medical Services, which sells medical equipment.
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.
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