By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… Question 3: Yes or No?
Last week Moapa Valley Progress editor, Vernon Robison, outlined five major issues with Question 3 in deducing that it is important to vote No (From the Editor’s Desk: It’s Really Not That Simple. PROGRESS July 25, 2018). As is the practice of the Progress editor, Vernon also published a letter from Mr. Keith Grimes in support of Question 3 (Urging Yes On Question 3: PROGRESS July 25, 2018).
I am glad to see Mr. Grimes is still alive and well for we had not heard from him in quite a while. Mr. Grimes stated a number of compelling points that would be of interest to many conservative voters. One of his main points was that the conservatives’ fascination with the principle of a “free market” should lead them to support Question 3.
While the “free market” is a cause all conservatives will fight and die for, if the conservative is honest he will have to admit there has not been a “free market” in America since the New Deal, if not even earlier than that. The free market surely disappeared with banks too large to fail, auto company bail outs, and the massive farm subsidies that have been going on for decades.
Let me approach the issue from a little different prospective from either of these two gentlemen.
I have a number of reasons to vote No on Question 3. First is the wording of the Question itself. It does not spell out how this move to topple the monopoly of NV Energy is to take place. It leaves it to the State Legislature to come up with the process. I have, over the years, watched the legislators of the State of Nevada attempt to develop State laws that will solve local problems and most end in abject failure.
The latest was with the educational situation in Clark County. The measures needed to “break up” the Clark County School District, as desired by the originators of the movement, were left up to the legislature and quickly became an aborted “reorganization.”
Those wishing to end the monopoly of NV Energy using Question 3 need to spell out exactly what the “break up” of NV energy would look like. Would small rural power providers be exempted from the break up? If not, what effect it would have on small rural power companies needs to be addressed specifically and not left up to the whim of the Legislature.
Second, one must understand how Overton Power District #5 is owned and operated. Overton Power District #5 is not a private for profit company. Overton Power District is not a cooperative. OPD #5 is a quasi-governmental agency, established and maintained by those who are serviced by OPD #5. It is a non-profit organization whose main mission is to provide the best power at the lowest price possible to its consumers.
When the company was originally created it was established by a number of citizens of the small town of Overton back in the 1930’s. It produced its own power from a water wheel on the Muddy River and made it possible for families in the valley to have one electric light per house. The men who established OPD #5 had no desire to make a profit. Their goal was to provide a service to their community. This philosophy still exists within the operational mission of OPD #5.
One of the stated purposes of Question 3 is to provide the consumer with an opportunity to shop for the provider of power with the lowest cost. Let me suggest to you that is exactly what OPD #5 does for you.
OPD #5 is not a power producer; it is basically a company that shops for the best priced power on the market and provides it to those within the power district. In essence, what the local power company does is provide experts in the power field who find the best power at the best price. OPD #5 does the shopping for you. Since there is no need to show a profit to pay stockholders or cooperative members, OPD #5 is able to maintain rates that are lower than NV Energy and other power companies in the state.
The company is run by a seven-member board elected by those served by the district. There is a representative for those in Bunkerville, Overton, Logandale, Moapa, two representatives for the larger community of Mesquite and one member “at large.”
The board hires a general manager who is an expert in the power industry and it is his responsibility to make sure power needs are provided. The members of the board, the management and the employees are all friends and neighbors of their communities.
In full disclosure, a number of years ago I sat on that board and provided oversight as the management of OPD #5 shopped for its consumers.
I may just be lazy but I really have no desire to shop for electricity. I don’t even like to shop for groceries.
I was a little surprised to find that Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project and the Western Resource Advocates have all come out in support of a No vote for Question 3. I didn’t believe I would ever agree with the Sierra Club on any issue, but I guess one must sell his soul now and again.
I understand that Question 3 is aimed at NV Energy but one must worry about how the legislation once developed will affect the small rural power providers. One must understand that those who are looking to break the monopoly of NV Energy have little or no concern for the rural communities of Nevada.
We in the rural communities of Clark County turned our schools over to a large District run by a board of people who have no idea where Moapa Valley is nor what their unique needs are; how has that worked out?
A vote Yes on Question 3 will result in turning decisions about community power issues over to individuals who have no concern for our community. I would just as soon have a friend and neighbor who I have helped elect do the job for me. I am definitely a NO vote and would recommended the same for all of those who are serviced by OPD #5.
Thought of the week… If it weren’t for electricity, we’d all be watching television by candlelight.