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LETTERS: Public Utilities Commission must be transparent, accessible to public

PUC and the public

Earlier this month, the Review-Journal editorial board called for Nevada Public Utilities Commissioner David Noble to resign after he expelled a citizen for trying to record a public proceeding about NV Energy (“Public Utilities Commisar,” Nov. 1 Review-Journal). The newspaper called his actions “an outrageous abuse” of his authority. Mr. Noble’s bullying of those who seek public transparency poses serious risks for the solar industry and all Nevadans.

In a few weeks, Mr. Noble and his fellow commissioners will decide the fate of solar in Nevada. NV Energy and PUC staff will seek enormous solar fees. NV Energy itself admits that its proposal could eliminate all solar savings. This is the definition of eliminating solar. A transparent process to review these solar-killing fees is critical.

The public unequivocally wants solar, with new polling showing that 9 out of 10 Nevadans support solar energy, more than any other energy source. If the PUC expels people for documenting public proceedings, it enables monopolies such as NV Energy to exert outsized political influence and eliminate solar competition.

The commission has already made it extremely difficult for citizens to record their opinions, with one of the most archaic public comment processes in the nation. To file a comment, citizens must first search the PUC’s website for Byzantine rules that require either a lengthy online registration process or physically mailing in a letter with a wet signature. The PUC does not accept online comments or emails. No one should need a lawyer to speak to public officials. Hundreds of Nevadans instead attended public hearings over the last few months to make their voices heard. But not everyone can attend in person, and the commission should stop discouraging communications from the public it serves.

There’s too much on the line to allow the public’s voices to be shut out. Approximately 6,000 people work in the solar industry in Nevada, jobs that will be eliminated if NV Energy or PUC staff get their way. Nevada’s consumer advocate has come out against NV Energy’s extreme proposals. While NV Energy and PUC staff want to ignore the public, sunlight is the best disinfectant for anti-solar policies. The commission should let the sunshine in.

Bryan Miller

Lafayette, Calif.

The writer is senior vice president of public policy and power markets for Sunrun.

Public education

As a former public school teacher and school psychologist for 36 years, the anger stirred in me by the editorial on Education Savings Accounts was immense (“Analyzing ESAs,” Nov. 5 Review-Journal).

First, the argument regarding competition is way off-base. As public school educators, our concern is to educate those who walk through our school’s doors. How do we meet their needs and give them experiences that will help them in life? We don’t waste our time wondering how the private sector does things.

Second, the allowing/fostering of ESAs is saying to parents that we are giving up on our public schools, and we recommend you get your kids out of the schools as quickly as possible. This is a significant statement and a total abandonment of the foundation of our country, which is public education.

Third, and most infuriating, is that the Review-Journal has been so negative about the Clark County School District, but I have not seen one investigative piece on what some of the so-called poor-performing schools do that calls for the negative comments spewed by your paper. Do you think the district has meetings asking what teachers have a poor performance record, and making sure we transfer them along with poor principals to ensure that the schools in question continue to perform poorly? Do you think a teacher wakes up every morning and asks: How many poor kids can I make sure don’t learn today?

I would like to see one piece by Glenn Cook or another one of your writers after they have spent significant time in some of these schools to see what obstacles are faced, what these kids need and how poorly prepared many are due to circumstances not of their choosing. Mr. Cook and others write that if we just put a good teacher in the classroom, everything will be fine, as if one can wave a magic wand and poof, all will learn well.

This is not about intelligence, as I know from experience that these kids are all very capable of learning. But there are barriers that prevent it from happening, and you can’t just say it’s because of poor teachers. Do some investigating, get involved and don’t just write something you have little knowledge of outside of test scores.

Ed Wagner

Las Vegas

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