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Dan Jacobson is senior adviser to Environment California.

Two years ago I got a bear hug from former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We were celebrating the installation of California’s one millionth solar roof. I was there back at the start of the campaign and helped to make sure we got the job done. Governor Schwarzenegger was the “Solarnator,” championing the law we worked to pass in 2006 that made it all happen.

Now it’s time for Gov. Gavin Newsom to decide if he will also be a hero for solar energy. Specifically, he can stand up for middle and working-class consumers, who are now finally able to put solar panels on their roofs, against utility attacks at the California Public Utilities Commission. The utilities are trying to dump our state's bedrock solar program and stick new monthly penalty fees on solar customers.

The governor can also use part of the state’s budget surplus to put solar — plus battery storage — on more homes, schools and community centers, which would build a solar-strong resilient electricity grid.

Few parts of California understand what’s at stake more than the Central Valley. When we celebrated one million solar roofs, we could have had the party anywhere, but we chose Buchanan High School in Clovis. The school brought marching bands and cheerleaders to the event, because folks in the valley understand better than anywhere else the potential of the sun to not only sustain the breadbasket of the world but to fuel our lives as well.

So, what’s so good about solar power? Well, let's check it out.

First of all, clean energy means clean air. Everyone knows that the Central Valley has some of the worst air pollution in not only the state but the country. In parts of California, 30 percent to 50 percent of our kids use asthma inhalers. Putting up solar panels reduces air pollution, and is an important step toward a healthier future for us and our kids.

Second, solar power on your roof and in your neighborhood is more reliable than fossil fuels. For example, in a weather emergency (like Tahoe’s recent one), the electricity can and does go out. It can take hours, days, sometimes weeks to restore power to people’s homes. During this time, people are in danger. Refrigerated medicine and access to information through the internet and cell phones are critical. We can’t wait weeks for these things.

What’s even worse is that more and more people are buying back-up generators to protect against outages. These generators need fossil fuels like diesel to operate. But diesel is also a terrible air pollutant, plus, storing and moving this dangerous liquid is not easy in the best of times, let alone during an emergency. On the other hand, even PG&E agrees that solar and onsite battery storage are safe, clean and perform perfectly in emergencies.

Finally, solar power is really popular. And the more people install it, the more affordable it becomes. Polls show that solar power is popular with the rich and poor, Republican and Democrat, Central Valley and coastal residents.

Rooftop solar is clean, it’s reliable, and we want it.

For the past 30 years, California governors have worked to clean up our air and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by getting more solar panels on more roofs. So it’s perplexing that the California Public Utilities Commission recently proposed to make solar a lot more expensive.

The state should be encouraging people to put more clean energy into our power system, not pushing them away from solar. Our public policies should boost solar adoption, because cleaner air and a stronger grid are the kind of public good that every Californian can agree on.

This month Governor Newsom will have a chance to be an action hero, like Schwarzenegger. He can make sure that California continues to install rooftop solar. To do that he will need to step in and tell his agencies to make sure clean energy — especially rooftop solar — keeps growing.

Governor, millions of solar adopters are rooting for you to protect our clean energy future. And me, I’m hoping to get a hug someday from California’s second Solarnator governor.

Dan Jacobson is senior adviser to Environment California.