Why Switch Created the Energy Choice Initiative: A New Energy Future for a New Nevada Economy

Switch Founder and CEO Rob Roy shares the importance of the passage of Question 3 and what energy choice means to Nevadans.

One truth in today’s world is that technology and innovation wait for no one. We are all witnesses to technological advances that touch every single aspect of our lives, occurring at such a fast pace that it is often hard to truly comprehend. One constant in tech is that change will continue to happen faster and faster. Our state has a choice to be ahead of this change—anticipating it, molding it, creating policy to support it, or find ourselves left behind.

The future of the new economy and therefore the future of the New Nevada is inexorably tied to technology. The internet of everything is going to affect…everything. The infrastructure supporting the future of technology will be built on two fundamental pillars that are essential to its success: competitively priced connectivity and competitively priced power. There will be a handful of states that will embrace hyper-scale technology infrastructure and will become the super hubs of future tech innovation. These states will create environments to support the two essential services that are running the equipment that in turn runs everything else.

I have spent the last decade and a half creating the world’s most competitively priced telecom cooperative right here in Nevada, the Switch CORE. Because of Switch, a company can connect from Nevada to anywhere else in the world at pricing that is unmatched by any other gateway location. These services at Switch are why hundreds of the world’s largest enterprise companies have moved their primary data center environments to our facilities here in Nevada. The Switch ecosystem isn’t just in the top 10 locations in the world to purchase telecom services, it is widely regarded as the number one location in the world to purchase these essential business solutions.

The Switch CORE solved the first part of the equation, competitively priced telecom. To start the movement to address the second part, competitively priced power, Switch created the Energy Choice Initiative (ECI). Innovative tech hubs will not grow where power prices are not competitive when compared to the other 49 states. Advanced technology ecosystems will only grow in the states that have the best-priced power environments. With recent changes in solar technology and dramatic decreases in the cost of creating power perpetually delivered by the sun, Nevada is poised to become the undisputed leader in solar power production. I believe Nevada has the unique opportunity to become the number one state at competitively powering and connecting the growth of the internet of everything.

The Energy Choice Initiative was created to guarantee every Nevadan the right to choose their energy options, and ensure that the current monopolistic energy provider system could no longer exist. On November 8th, the more than 783,000 Nevadans who voted to approve the Energy Choice Initiative made sure their opinions mattered. They did it by a record setting margin of 72 percent. No other ballot measure in the last two decades has enjoyed the level of support that Question 3 did when all of the ballots were counted.

Approval of Question 3 by such an overwhelming margin proves that the people of our state want change in the energy policy for the future of Nevada. They want to move forward with positioning our state as a leader of technology innovation, renewable energy development and competitive clean energy pricing through a well-regulated, open energy market. There can be no New Nevada without a New “Energy” Nevada.

Energy Choice: The Right Thing To Do

Nevada is now poised to develop the plan to implement a forward-looking energy policy that embraces today’s energy producing technologies, supports sustainability and ends the monopoly that is no longer in the best interest of the people of our state. Central to this policy are the key principles that protect consumers. This includes the principle that more clean energy, lower bills and improved energy efficiency should be available to all consumers equally, from individual low-income users to the largest industrial customers. Additionally, I am committed to ensuring that any restructuring protects existing residential customers, especially fixed-income Nevadans, so that they are not left with increased costs when the state transitions to a new, well-regulated, open energy market.

At Switch, we are already building the new 180-megawatt Switch Station 1 and Switch Station 2 solar farms to power our company with 100 percent renewable energy. Switch will be sharing 10 percent of the power produced by our energy projects at cost to residential end users to start enabling every Nevadan to lower their power bill using the sun. Local IBEW and more than 500 of its members are working to build that project. This new job creation for electrical workers is just the beginning, and with the passage of the Energy Choice Initiative, Nevada could more than double the number of clean energy jobs in the state over the next several years.

It takes strong partnerships to bring about this kind of vision and ECI is continuing to receive support statewide. From Las Vegas Sands and the Clean Energy Project to MGM Resorts and the Sierra Club, Wolfgang Puck Dining to the Nevada Conservation League, and from Valley Electric Association to Winnemucca Farms, all joined more than a hundred other businesses and union leaders like the Laborer’s Local 872 to help move the Energy Choice Initiative forward. Switch is proud to have brought together this impressive group of thought leaders in our state.

The Next Steps

Passage of Question 3 by more than 70 percent undeniably is a mandate for immediate change in the 2017 Legislature. I would like to focus on a different reason for immediate energy choice and freedom solutions in this next legislative session—the need for “we the people of Nevada” to do the right thing for our economy. We must partner together with all due haste to create the essential infrastructure that will not only power the future of the New Nevada, but also the future of the new world.

I would like to challenge every residential and commercial user of electricity along with every policymaker to recognize that technology and innovation will wait for no one, and that we are at the precipice of Nevada becoming a true technology infrastructure hub of the future. Working together in the next legislative session we can realize these benefits for our state immediately, and ensure that the many opportunities to expand our current businesses and bring additional economic pillars into our state never pass us by.

Energy choice presents a unique opportunity for our state’s future and I sincerely look forward to working closely with you to realize its vision and full potential.