Opinion/Letters to the Editor: Dancing on the Titanic

By Lane Sharman, Managing Partner, Solana Energy, and Member, City of Solana Beach Clean & Green

Debra Reed, the CEO of Sempra Energy, and Michael Niggli, the COO of San Diego Gas & Electric, are dancing on the Titanic tonight. SDG&E filed an application to the Public Utilities Commission on Oct. 3 to effectively kill rooftop and commercial solar in San Diego County. Profits are up at Sempra Energy. Other utility executives around the nation play in the band.

An innovative solar project to cover a reservoir for the Valley Center Municipal Water District was cancelled as a result of the current economic uncertainty. Solana Energy, the author’s company, had to present a notice of solar project cancellation to the Directors of the Borrego Water District on Nov. 18. There, I explained the gross tax proposed by SDG&E in its infamous October PUC application to the incredulity of the public jaded by the Sunrise Powerlink debacle. Many projects will not go forward because SDG&E is attempting to breach Net Metering Law with its proposed “Network Use” charge to be levied on ratepayers with solar and any other form of renewable energy.

The executives at Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric are on the dance floor and have invited their friends at the PUC and the State legislature to join them. Recently, the PUC determined that $.04 per Kilowatt Hour was a fair payment for excess solar generation while the utilities charge three times and up for those electrons delivered to neighbors. The power of utility executives to exact an economic injustice in the back-office of the PUC and the legislature is manifold.

It is high time for all San Diegans to get off this ship. An orderly exit is no longer possible thanks to corporate executives drinking and feeding at public expense. SDG&E is a monopoly. It bears no resemblance to a capitalistic enterprise having to compete openly. SDG&E has broken a covenant enshrined in law and common sense: to protect the right of energy self-generation for the economic and environmental benefit of all San Diegans.

As was done in Boulder, Colorado in 2011, it is high time for voters to municipalize San Diego Gas & Electric. After all, its balance sheet is upside down due to the huge liability from the fires it caused. The purchase of SDG&E by the public lock, stock and barrel is long overdue … the recent action to tax solar is the last straw. The outrage of the many against the few on the dance floor is a rising contra-chorus in America. We must take command of our economic and environmental destiny before the ship goes down. I urge all San Diegans: join me in a single vote to municipalize SDG&E. It no longer serves the public interest. It never has.

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