California’s battles over rooftop solar obscure the true culprits: Gavin Newsom and Silicon Valley billionaires
The LA Times’ inestimable Sammy Roth reports on the attempt of California’s investor-owned utilities to finish “net metering,” whereby utilities must pay customers with rooftop solar for his or her excess electricity. Roth has been highly skeptical of the utilities’ drive: it’s an age of climate crisis, and the state’s Public Utilities Commission goes to reduce payments to homeowners with solar??!!
It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham!
But not so fast: Roth acknowledges that NRDC, not generally generally known as a utility shill, supports the general outlines of the proposal, although not necessarily the specifics.
Well, here’s the issue: if utilities must pay fees to homeowners with solar – who are likely to be somewhat more affluent – which means those funds aren’t available to chop the prices of electricity to lower-income people. And we are going to need lower-income communities to make use of electricity to get them into EVs.
Roth concludes by maintaining his skepticism, observing:
I can’t let you know learn how to feel. But I can point you to other analyses concluding that rooftop and large-scale solar are each needed — in huge quantities — to stave off the worst of the climate crisis. Even research funded by the rooftop solar industry and its supporters has found an enormous need for giant solar farms, wind turbines and long-distance power lines.
So evidently that is one those Hard Selections We Must Confront.
But wait a minute: Roth, undoubtedly due to the posture the problem is in now, neglected to say one crucial thing. There is a way around that.
Proposition 30 on this past November’s ballot, proposed raising state income taxes by all of 1.75% for annual incomes over $2 million – essentially a number of hundred (or possibly even a number of dozen) millionaires. And one in every of the large things that the monies within the initiative would go to were subsidizing low-income people to get into EVs and developing the infrastructure for them to achieve this. Under current California law, the state can be nearly 1 million EV chargers short, and while there are subsidy programs for low-income people to buy EVs, they’re very small and thoroughly inadequate.
Well, that gave the impression of a very good method to square the circle: raise the highest rate to be able to pay for the infrastructure. That way, we could have our cake and eat it, too: low-income people could get assistance and we could preserve net metering.
But after all Proposition 30 lost, and why? Because supposed climate hawk Governor Gavin Newsom decided to come back out strongly against it, and lead an promoting campaign against it. His reason is pretty clear: Silicon Valley billionaires, who bankrolled his campaign and promise to bankroll his future Presidential ambitions, hated it. And it went right down to defeat.
In other words, the alternative now presented to the Public Utilities Commission – rooftop solar subsidies or environmental justice – is a false one. Green homeowners and EJ advocates have been set against one another by Silicon Valley billionaires and a Governor who cares more about his Presidential ambitions than meeting the state’s climate goals.
I don’t know what the PUC will do. But this whole issue symbolizes the pattern of American politics for many of my lifetime: the Top 1% (and even Top .1%) has managed to hoard wealth and income by setting everyone else against one another. And even in one in every of the bluest states within the country, they’ve done it again.