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Bill Walton is a solar evangelist with Stellar Solar
Bill Walton is a former NBA star and currently a "solar evangelist" for Stellar Solar. Photo via Facebook/Bill Walton
Community Commentary Opinion Opinions

Commentary: Please Gavin, reject CPUC’s new solar policy

By Bill Walton

Please Gavin, Bill Walton here, with a request that you reject the California Public Utilities Commission’s recent policy decision regarding the future economics of solar energy.

This “problem” now sits on your desk, and we wait for action.

This “problem” and its ridiculous proposed “solution” has been created by our state’s major utilities and the fossil fuel industries. The basic story is that under the current rules, the major utilities and fossil fuel industries are not controlling the entire spectrum of economic activity in the energy space.

And to them, that is unacceptable. These two big players want everything. And they are not happy with the big shift of energy production in our great state towards locally-owned roof-top residential and commercial solar.

Their preposterous argument is that the current rules exclude poor people from participating in the scientific, technological, and economic advancements that have now put roof-top solar at the front of the renewable energy wave that we are riding to a better and more sustainable future.

And that because poor people can’t afford their own solar systems, people who already have or want to go solar must pay for this systemic inequality.

The major utilities, on behalf of the fossil fuel industries, claim and want current solar energy producers, like people who have roofs that utilize solar, to rectify this social, economic and political inequality.

This is a hypocritical scam of epic proportions.

The major utilities and fossil fuel industries tried to railroad this same plan through our California State Legislature last summer. Our directly elected state assembly officials saw right through this and wouldn’t even bring the proposal to a vote.

The major utilities, never shy about using ratepayer money to work against ratepayer interests, or taking money from the fossil fuel industries, came back with a run-around attempt to implement the same plan through the CPUC.

This note is my reminder to you, Gavin, that the CPUC is supposed to represent the interests of California consumers, in our relationships with state-empowered monopolistic utilities. The CPUC, appointed, not elected, is responsible to you, Gavin, The Governor. And you to us.

As a native Californian, and a lifelong resident, it has never crossed my mind that the major utilities and fossil fuel folks are concerned about the well-being of the economically disadvantaged.

You, Gavin, as Governor, might want to ask the folks who get cut off or disconnected by the major utilities because they can’t afford to pay their exorbitant utility bills just how much the utility companies care about their challenges. This is about power, greed and profits.

At the expense of the California Dream. The California that I know and love is about using, enabling and empowering science and technology to create a better tomorrow.

There has to be a better way to solve our challenges, issues and problems than to penalize the solar vanguard that is leading us into the future.

Gavin, I am urging you to do the right thing, follow the lead of the people’s direct representatives, and send this disastrous CPUC “solution” back to the beginning. And when they start over, please instruct them that rooftop solar and local renewable energy sources are always the goal. And that every policy, regulation and piece of legislation needs to encourage and incentivize solar energy, particularly local roof-top solar.

We can solve many of the negative inequities in our society by immediately stopping all subsidies to the fossil fuel industries. These scandalous subsidies have been in place seemingly forever. And look where this misguided policy has taken us.

We need to make the fossil fuel industries compete on a truly free and open market. While also requiring that the fossil fuel industries clean up the messes that they’ve created and left behind.

And we can take all that saved and recouped money and build out the world’s greatest renewable energy power supply and grid. And then for those who can’t afford to pay for this inexpensive and endless source of clean energy, we can create subsidies.

We subsidize a lot of things that are of real value and need in our culture: Housing. Medical care. Food. Education. Transportation. Please Gavin, add solar and renewable energy to the list. And please also instruct the CPUC that Net Metering is good economics.

And while we’re all puzzled by the CPUC’s proffered “solution” to this hypocritical scam, you, Gavin, might want to ask the CPUC, why in their “new math” the energy that solar producers generate for the major utilities is valued as worthless, but that the same energy that we must buy back is valued as priceless.

If hypocrisy were food, there would be no hunger. If hypocrisy were energy, there would be no shortages.  Please, Gavin, the ball is in your hands. This “problem” and its solution is on your desk. It is also on your conscience and soul. The clock is ticking.

Thank you in advance for doing the right thing, for the people of California, and for the state itself.

Bill Walton is a former professional basketball star and currently serves as a “Solar Evangelist” for Stellar Solar.

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