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An Open Letter to Former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers

The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) issued an open letter responding to former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers and his views on solar energy and utilties.

Dear Mr. Rogers,

You recently stated in an interview that you would do things differently if you were to restart your career:

"I'd want the solar on the rooftop. I'd want to run that. I'd want the ability to deploy new technologies that lead to productivity gains to the use of electricity in homes and businesses. I would go after the monopoly that I see weakened over the last 25 years.  My goal would be to take customers away from utilities as fast as I could, because I think they're vulnerable. Regulations will not be changed fast enough to protect them.  The business model will not be changed fast enough."

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Jim. 

Utilities are resorting to dirty and ineffective tactics to preserve their antiquated monopolies.  Last year, Arizona Public Service (APS) funded a multimillion-dollar anti-solar campaign. Reports of APS lying repeatedly about funding phony grassroots organizations and ads attacking their own customers unveiled an entire web of dark money.  What’s more, the utility trade association, Edison Electric Institute (EEI), joined APS with its own TV and radio ads attacking rooftop solar customers.  Despite spending millions and damaging their own brands, APS and EEI failed.  Regulators upheld net metering, and Arizonans still love solar.  What they did accomplish was dragging down APS's net approval with its own customers by 13 points.

Arizona proves your point: utilities can’t enforce rapid regulatory protections to preserve their monopolies.

But utilities do have a choice.  They can figure out how to adapt to avoid following in APS’s failed footsteps.  Duke, for example, can still make the right choice.  Unfortunately, your successor Lynn Good lacks your vision.  Just last week she met with local reporters and attacked rooftop solar to defend Duke’s monopoly. 

As former CEO and President of Duke Energy and former Chairman of the Edison Electric Institute, you are uniquely positioned to help Duke and its trade association see a better way forward.  Help them realize that rent-seeking from regulators to protect their monopolies, instead of adapting to serve the needs of today’s energy consumers, is a short-sighted and deeply flawed strategy.  It failed for APS.  It will fail for Duke.  

Sincerely,

Bryan Miller and John Stanton, Co-chairs of The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC)

This letter was slightly adapted from the original.

Lead image: Letter via Shutterstock

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Bryan Miller is the vice president of public policy and power markets at Sunrun, where he oversees all legislative, regulatory, and political affairs. He previously served as Vice President of Energy Policy for Sustainable Energy at Constellation,...

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