Bill Walton has always walked the solar talk. First as an early solar adopter who now powers his electric cars with solar. His passion for solar comes from a true understanding of the environmental and financial benefits.
Bill Walton with Stellar Solar Kent Harle on the deck of the USS Midway before speaking to San Diego business leaders on his role as their solar evangelist at the San Diego Union Tribune Best Of awards.
SAN DIEGO, Jan. 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Basketball legend, NBA Hall of Famer, noted solar enthusiast and solar evangelist for Stellar Solar Bill Walton issued a letter today to California Governor Newsom calling on him to reject the California Public Utilities (CPUC) proposed decision on rooftop solar.
Despite the overwhelming popularity of rooftop solar in California, and the strong public support for programs to increase solar energy in California, the CPUC is proposing a giveaway to investor-owned utilities that would dramatically increase the cost of rooftop solar.
The CPUC proposal relates to net metering, the state policy that makes rooftop solar more affordable for consumers, particularly in middle and working class neighborhoods where solar is growing fastest, by compensating them for the excess energy they produce and share with their neighbors. The CPUC proposed decision would make solar unaffordable for most consumers by imposing a new $684 a year "solar tax" and slashing consumer credits for solar by 80%.
If utilities get their way, solar will become unaffordable for most middle and working class consumers, costing tens of thousands of solar jobs, making California more vulnerable to fires and blackouts, and derailing California's clean energy progress needed to fight climate change.
In a letter to Governor Newsom, Bill Walton writes:
Bill Walton here, with a request that you reject the recent December 2021 CPUC policy decision regarding the future economics of solar energy.
This "problem" now sits on your desk; and we wait for action.
This "problem" and it's 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" that 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.
The CPUC will hold a final vote on the future of net metering following a 25-day comment period on the proposed decision and alternative proposals. The current proposal is set for a vote on January 27, 2022, but that date could be moved if an alternate decision is proposed. The proposed changes to net metering could go into effect as early as this Spring.
About Bill Walton
Bill Walton is a long-term advocate for clean energy and does his part by powering his home with solar, collecting rainwater, driving electric vehicles, and representing solar companies as a solar evangelist. He is an active board member of CleanTech San Diego. Bill was born in San Diego and raised in La Mesa, California. He exploded on the basketball scene while attending Helix High School then to UCLA as a scholarship player for John Wooden, winning three successive NCAA Player of the Year awards and helping UCLA to consecutive undefeated NCAA Championships (1972, 1973), and a record 88-game winning streak. He was selected as the #1 overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers who won the NBA Championship in 1977, earning Bill the NBA Finals MVP award that season. Bill won another NBA title, playing with the Boston Celtics in 1986. Bill is a member of the NBA All Time Team and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. His career as a broadcaster has now spanned 30 years working for every major network and platform including ESPN and is an Emmy Award winning on-air talent. He is a New York Times Best Selling author, with his memoir, "Back from The Dead." He is active in many philanthropic endeavors, including the global initiative Bike for Humanity, a virtual biking fundraiser.