Switch, Ltd., a designer and operator of data centers, is again seeking the Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s approval to procure energy from a non-utility electric provider. Switch is currently building a new data center — which it claims is the largest data center development in the world — located in Sierra Pacific Power’s service territory and intends to purchase energy as an unbundled retail customer. Switch is pursuing open market access for its Northern Nevada operations in order to obtain access to “innovative and competitively priced renewable energy technologies.”
Switch emphasized that this is not an “exit application,” noting that that term and the related term “exit fee” are merely colloquial and “wholly inappropriate” in any 704B proceeding. Instead, Switch emphasized that its new data facility will “join” SPPC’s system as a “distribution-only service customer.” Switch’s previous application, filed in November 2014, was rejected by the PUC in June 2015. However, notably, all three PUC commissioners who considered Switch’s 2014 application have since been replaced by Gov. Brian Sandoval.
On November 8, Nevada voters will decide whether to approve the Energy Choice Initiative (Question 3), which would amend the state’s constitution to create and facilitate open, competitive electricity markets that provide customers with “meaningful” energy choices. Question 3 effectively prohibits a legal monopoly structure for electric utilities, while explicitly allowing customers to generate electricity for themselves or in association with others, and to join with and to sell electricity on the market. If Question 3 passes, Nevada’s legislature would be required to enact laws to create an open, competitive electricity market by July 1, 2023.