24 Oct The States to Watch This Election Day That Could Impact Your Energy Market
Due to the turbulent nature of the national election, a great deal of distraction from local and state issues has resulted in unaware and uneducated voters. For instance, several states have included energy-related issues on the ballots that are likely to affect the future energy markets in these Regardless of your political allegiances, below are the states to watch if your business currently operates within these state lines (or plans to in the future), as the outcomes will likely have a big impact on voters and businesses alike.
The future of solar in the state is unclear, but it is clear that Republicans will not be losing control of the Arizona Corporation Commission. Three of the five seats will be available, and of the five candidates vying for the open positions, only two Democrats are in the running. The two seats that are not up for election are Republican controlled. Both Democratic candidates have made it known they are supporters of solar energy. While the ongoing solar situation is complicated with both net metering advocates and utilities battling, the future is still undetermined for solar in the state. Regulators are currently waiting on additional information to make a judgement on incentives and straighten out the state’s solar program. These decisions could be left to the new regulators elected into office in November.
Solar might be getting a little more interesting in Florida in the near future. Voters have the opportunity to vote on Amendment 1 on election day. This bill would amend the state’s constitution to allow consumers the right to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property in order to generate electricity for their personal use. This amendment will likely pass, as state polls currently indicate that 66% of voters support it. For some advocates, the slight wrinkle in the amendment is that it would allow utilities to monopolize the solar industry in Florida. It would allow for state and local governments to levy fees on consumers who utilize solar energy, in order to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar do subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access. Various groups, including environmentalists, are warning voters to be skeptical of the amendment and say no. Depending on the outcome of the vote, solar customers might see a rise in their rates.
Nevadans will have the chance to amend the state’s constitution to open the retail electric market to customer choice on election day. This ballot issue has the opportunity to shake up the state’s energy market even more than we have seen over the past year. Electric retail customers will see the most change, especially given the shifts at Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in the past few months. Local polls in Nevada are suggesting that 72% of voters are in favor of deregulating the retail electricity market and Question 3 on the ballot should easily pass. Nevada will likely be the next state to open up for choice business.
Montana elects five commissioners to the Public Service Commission (PSC) in five districts. The Republican party is unlikely to lose control, but is dealing with some Democratic and Independent contenders in several districts. Candidate selection is important in each district due to potential reform and recent regulatory changes in the state. Guaranteed rates for small solar projects were suspended temporarily, and regulatory reform for net metering is anticipated to be a hot button topic in the near future. Montana’s net metering system has risen to 30% annually and looks to reach the cap within the next 10 years. The state’s PSC and lawmakers will have to debate further options for incentives and the metering system.
Louisiana also has a five-member Public Service Commission that is elected on a district level. Republicans currently control the commission with a 3-2 split, but control could easily shift in the other direction this year. The election process in Louisiana is a little more complicated and requires a clear majority of votes for a delegate in order to be elected. If the majority mark is not reached a runoff vote will be required at a later date. While Louisiana is not currently deregulated in natural gas or electricity, this election will be crucial in deciding the future policies in these areas.