Bloomberg Markets – November 1, 2016
by Ari Natter & Mark Chediak
As if choosing the next president of the U.S. wasn’t confusing enough, states from Nevada to Florida have energy measures on the ballot this year that have left many voters befuddled.
In Florida there’s an amendment that would make solar energy a constitutional right — but it’s being fought by the solar industry. In Washington state a “stand-up economist” has gotten the nation’s first carbon-tax on the ballot — but it’s opposed by environmentalists. And in Nevada casino owners are rolling the dice, pushing a measure to allow them to break free from their electric utility to take their chances buying power in an open market.
Taken together these items underscore how energy companies are facing a hodgepodge of pressures at the state level, prompting big fights outside the Beltway. The stakes are so high because there hasn’t been major federal energy legislation in nearly a decade.
There’s “the realization that we are not going to make progress at the federal level,” said John Farrell, a director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a Washington-based non-profit that advises local governments on community development.
In addition, clashes between utilities and rooftop solar installers; customers and their power suppliers are intensifying as wind and solar power drop in price, making them competitive with utilities’ long-established coal and nuclear plants.