This year, Nevada voters face an important question. Ballot Question 3 seeks to permanently guarantee “energy choice” in the Constitution of Nevada.
After careful consideration, the Nevada Mining Association has decided to oppose this measure. I urge you to do the same and vote “NO” on Question 3 when you go to the polls this November.
As I write this, the price of gold is $1,195 an ounce – down 37 percent from its peak in August 2011 and down 7 percent since the 2016 election. Silver is down 72 percent and 19 percent from the same dates. Copper, molybdenum, barite and other Nevada minerals are similarly beleaguered. Costs to operate are higher than ever as tariffs impact the prices of equipment and construction materials.
Question 3 will create turmoil in Nevada’s predictable energy market and potentially increase the cost of power, exposing mines and miners to unnecessary risks.
The Nevada Mining Association relied on objective and independent reports to determine its effects. The report from the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada suggests that energy costs in this state will increase immediately. The PUCN report also expresses concern that passage will burden residential and commercial ratepayers with nearly $4 billion in costs to pay for energy generation and restructuring the energy market.
The Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities also describes the tremendous uncertainty that passage of Question 3 will create in Nevada. In July, the Governor’s Committee on Energy Choice warned about the difficult decisions that will need to be made should Question 3 pass.
Of particular concern is the potential impact on the people who power the mining industry — miners and their families. Nevadans’s electric rates are about 17 percent less than the national average, according to the Energy Information Administration. Question 3 does not guarantee that these rates will remain in effect. Nevadans pay about 41 percent less than ratepayers in California, but every report indicates that a restructured Nevada market may have to rely on California.
Mines spend tens of millions of dollars on energy every year. Even a modest increase would have a tremendous impact on operations. More important, an electric rate increase would hurt mining families. If Question 3 passes, it is more likely that rates will go up than that they will go down. Gambling with Nevada’s existing energy market is a risk Nevada mines and miners cannot afford to take.
This November, I hope you will join me in voting “NO” on Question 3.