THE BLOG
11/29/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Gov. Schwarzenegger Peeks in the Shower, and Talks Climate

In his crusade to cut greenhouse gases California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has included a call to cut water use across the parched state by twenty percent per person.

He's starting at home by pressing his four children to shorten their showers. And the Kindergarten Cop isn’t kidding around, noting that moving water accounts for 20 percent of electricity use in California. Revealing that he grew up in a house without running water, the Governor spoke last week at Climate One in San Francisco on the third anniversary of his signing California’s climate change law (AB 32). A class of fourth graders was in the audience of 500 people and one of the schoolchildren wanted to know what the governor tells his own children about energy conservation. Here’s video of his humorous shower riff that got picked up by the New York Times over the weekend.

In more serious moments, the Governor touched on a range of climate and energy issues in our conversation last week marking the third anniversary of his signing the California Global Warming Solutions Act, the first law in the country mandating reductions in greenhouse gases.

On whether the law creates jobs and investment or, as Meg Whitman said in launching her gubernatorial campaign, it is "well intentioned” but is “wrong for these challenging times.”

Dismissing her comments as campaign rhetoric, Schwarzenegger said “She will probably reconsider what she has said,” and reiterated his insistence that he is pressing “full speed ahead” on California’s efforts to curb greenhouse gases via the climate law. “I’m sure she does not want to be counted as one of those Republicans that will want to move us back to the Stone Age.”

On whether California should wait for the federal government or other countries to work out policies and technologies that will drive a clean energy future"

"Did they do that when we said we'd land on the moon? "Did we say, China, you go first with human rights? Then we will follow you. No, we led."

On Keeping Solar Energy Moving

As usual, he was all pumped up on the topic of solar energy, joking that new panels on the Staples Center in Los Angeles could have given the Los Angeles Lakers “extra energy” that propelled them to the NBA championships. Specifically, he said he supports raising the cap of power that utilities must buy from homeowners with solar panels to 5 percent from 2.5 percent. Solar companies say that move is imperative for sustaining solar companies and the jobs they are creating.

Solar and clean tech companies and advocates also want the governor to sign AB 920, a "net metering" bill authored by Assemblyman Jared Huffman and recently passed by the California legislature.  It requires utilities to pay homeowners for excess electricity they generate on their roofs. Right now homeowners (like my wife and me) who produce more electricity than they use leave money on the table with their utility and have little economic incentive to keep finding efficiencies. Homeowners can't be net producers of electricity over the course of a year.With audience questions coming fast and furious during our 40 minute conversation I didn't get a chance to ask the governor his thoughts on this one. 

In his speech, the Governor cited the promise of clean technologies to create jobs and drive the California economy. On the day when there were walkouts across University of California campuses to protest budget cuts and tuition increases, a member of the audience asked “If it’s all about technology why are we cutting the budgets of our universities?”

Citing the combined hole of more than $60 billion in the state budget, he responded, “What is your choice?”

Once the budget axe started to swing, he said, “The teachers are screaming. The doctors are screaming. The prison guards are screaming. Firefighters are screaming. Where are you gonna [cut]?”