Last month’s decision by the California Public Utilities Commission to allow the state’s fast-growing solar industry to move forward without burdensome new fees and regulations was widely embraced by the state’s technology leaders and environmental groups.
But there was one self-proclaimed consumer group — The Utility Reform Network, better known as TURN — that fought the solar industry every step of the way, putting it on the opposite side of the fence from the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and others.
Despite its logo that features the words, “Lower Bills. Livable Planet,” and a motto that says it demands “cleaner energy and stronger consumer protections,” TURN was on the wrong side of history.
This isn’t the first time.
TURN’s battle to prevent the solar industry from providing clean, affordable energy is reflective of the group’s outdated and increasingly out-of-touch philosophies that are stifling innovation in California.
The group – largely funded by intervenor compensation fees – clings to 1970s style regulation fixated on costs. It ignores the greater scheme of consumer benefits as well as marketplace trends.
Which is why it fought environmental groups over solar despite a strong consumer desire to support rooftop solar. And why it fights technology (and consumer demand) by clinging to a heavily-polluting copper wire network instead of promoting investment in fiber that will bring more telecomm services to more Californians.
If TURN wants to be relevant in helping consumers, it should focus back on its core mission to give California consumers the innovative and clean technologies they are demanding. Simply serving as an obstructionist hurts consumers, California’s economy, and our state’s leadership in technology.