Letters to the Editor: Edison CEO on why California rooftop solar rules must change
This letter isn’t just about rooftop solar. Our state’s climate change policy is also at risk if the federal solar credit doesn’t get renewed at the expense of our state solar manufacturers.
I’m also a longtime environmental activist who has been involved in efforts to address climate change and green jobs for some 25 years. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and I’m a native of Concord. I have always been in favor of the environment and I have always supported and fought for green jobs. As an Environmental Studies major in college, I took a year off and volunteered my summer job to work on the San Francisco Bay-Delta Conservation and Enhancement Project. It is one of the two major local jobs training programs in the Bay Area and was a huge success.
A few years later I became an intern for Congressman Mike Honda and worked for the Honda Initiative. The idea was to use the private sector to implement a climate change program for Congress. My job was to analyze climate change and energy policies in the U.S. Congress. It took me quite a while to realize how big the problem was and how far we needed to go. While I was on this project, the U.S. EPA started building an office with a climate change policy team in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was thrilled. That was a real watershed moment, because with that office came many more people that knew what was needed and where we needed to go.
Back in the late 90’s, there were about 300 solar panel manufacturing jobs located in San Francisco. Today the numbers are in the hundreds. My local Green Jobs program was working on the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area. I was working with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, along with then Congressman Honda and Senator Dianne Feinstein. As part of the Green Jobs in the Bay Area, we were targeting a company called Advanced Energy Inc. They had been developing the largest solar manufacturing plant in the world in San Jose. That plant was being built through a contract with Siemens. The city of San Francisco then wanted to create an incentives program that would help the employees and the company. The city provided the company with a 25% rebate, which was a little bit more than the average local solar manufacturing company was getting. That was where the idea for the state government