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Money Talks, Walks & Works

Unfortunately, money has a significant impact in politics and policy. However, this is not a new claim, nor is it surprising.

Ever since Citizens United passed, money in politics has been accepted, though not without backlash. Last year, a piece of legislation was brought up in the California senate which aimed to allow non-property owning residents to buy-in to distributed renewable energy programs in their territories.

Current California law allows for property owners, i.e. homeowners, to add renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, onto their homes. Further, homeowners can apply for government loans and tax credits to help fund these projects, which were established under the Obama administration.

However, people who rent, don’t have the equity, or don’t have correct-facing roofs are not covered under the current law.

Senate bill 843, proposed by Sen. Lois Wolk (D), would allow for uncovered people to buy-in to a program to get access to renewable energy. For example, if there were a co-op in an apartment building in which renters paid a little extra to build solar panels on the roof of the garage building, the apartment complex would be able to buy-in to a distributed energy program provided by the utility company in that territory.

This would be a large step toward providing clean energy for a bigger group of people, and generate more revenue for the state. However, the utility companies would have to provide more services, which would cost more, and their pockets wouldn’t be as deep.

This is the core problem: selfish, greedy companies sacrificing their customers and the environment for short-term financial gains. The vote on Senate bill 843 was recently conducted, and not surprisingly, two of the three (powerful) utility companies unleashed a massive lobbying effort to block the passage of the bill, and it worked.

Sen. Wolk expected support going into the meeting, but once the doors closed, the utility companies’ pawns in the government flip-flopped and killed the bill. Once again, money in politics walks, talks, and works.

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