A federal appeals court recently ruled that the Federal Communications Commission must rethink its net neutrality rules -- a decision with potentially far-reaching implications for the future of high-speed Internet.
Now FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler must work with Congress to modernize outdated laws that don't address the reality of today's Internet.
In doing so, he should keep in mind the benefits an open and accessible broadband network has provided to California's green tech industry and reaffirm his commitment to the restrained regulatory approach that has helped bring forth such a network and encourage private investment.
In a world facing environmental challenges, leadership by the FCC on broadband connectivity -- the driver of many of these green innovations -- is crucial.
Broadband is key to building a smart grid across California and has the unique capacity to transfer large amounts of data across platforms and technologies.
It also allows smart energy products to feed information back to utilities in real time.
Today's electricity grid, however, is designed solely for one-way transmission of energy. Decisions about optimizing energy production use information that is days -- or even months -- old. The result is a system that cannot be reactive to energy needs.
A smart grid is reactive; it stores energy when too much is being produced and brings additional generation online when demand surges.
A smart grid would also allow for decentralized energy production by drawing power from rooftop solar systems and small wind turbines, even if generation in another area has gone offline.
California produces 17 percent of its in-state generation through renewable sources, but more smart grid technologies would enable our state to produce, store and use more renewable energy.
To make smart grids a reality, broadband investment must be encouraged, not stifled. Chairman Wheeler should help maintain the established growth trend in broadband technology.
In the wake of the appeals court ruling, some critics will call for placing harsh limitations on broadband providers, regulating them like phone companies with outdated laws that don't apply to today's technologies.
These actions would suppress the investments that have brought us today's faster broadband speeds.
To ensure regulation does not hamper future growth in this industry, Wheeler should continue the cautious regulatory approach that began during the Clinton administration that helped fuel today's robust investment in Internet infrastructure and green-tech innovation.
Light regulation going forward will both spur innovation and continue to grow the green-tech industry in California, bringing more jobs to a state that leads the nation in tech employment with an estimated 968,800 jobs, according to a 2013 TechAmericaFoundation report.
Since taking office, Wheeler has acknowledged the relationship between energy efficiency and America's networks. For the benefit of California's green tech entrepreneurs, let's hope Wheeler maintains his commitment to America's robust broadband infrastructure in contemplating the FCC's reaction to the court's decision.
Ken Munson is president and CEO of Sunverge Energy, a San Francisco-based, grid-tied energy management company that controls, monitors, reports and aggregates renewable generation and stored energy, in near real-time via the cloud.