EDITORIAL: Allowing Nevada consumers energy choice

The local TV airwaves have been inundated with advertising warning Nevadans that providing them with the freedom to choose their own electricity provider — which is what Question 3 proposes — is a “risky” scheme. Why consumer choice is seen as a dangerous concept to be avoided is never really explained. Apparently, opponents of the initiative believe it would be much “safer” for the government to limit the number of available products in other areas so as to make it less confusing for consumers. Ladas for everybody!

But it’s worth noting the deceptions inherent in many anti-Question 3 ads. For instance, one common theme is that states which offer their residents more electricity options have higher electricity prices than Nevada. That, however, is a meaningless assertion. Energy costs vary all across the country based on myriad factors. The relevant question is whether states that offer choice saw potential price savings for consumers once they opened the marketplace.

In fact, consumers have generally enjoyed significant savings thanks to competition. The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association estimates that consumer choice saves Ohio residents $3 billion each year. A 2017 study by the Compete Coalition concluded that prices in states with choice increased 4.5 percent less than inflation between 1997 and 2014, while monopoly states such as Nevada saw 8.4 percent increases.

Question 3 — a state constitutional amendment that must be approved twice by voters — passed easily in 2016. But opponents — backed by monopoly energy provider NV Energy and including many progressive environmental groups that would prefer Nevadans be forced to buy more expensive green energy than be afforded choice — have ramped up the attacks as the second vote approaches in November. Yes, change can often be unsettling. But Nevada voters must consider: Do they really believe that quasi-monopolies protected by government deliver better service than robust markets and competition?

For the record, the Review-Journal is owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson, who has provided financial support for Question 3. But this paper has a decadeslong history of supporting free choice and free markets. Competition has proven a boon to consumers in virtually every nook of the economy and has driven America’s long prosperity. Why prevent Nevada consumers from reaping the potential benefits when it comes to their energy provider?

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