Can you imagine a time when the District of Columbia is the healthiest, greenest, and most livable place in the country? A city where 100% of our energy supply comes from renewable energy sources? When the public transportation is 100% zero-emission? Charging stations for electric vehicles are plentiful, a common part of the city’s infrastructure? With energy efficient buildings and homes, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption at an all-time low? This is the clean energy future that the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (DCPSC) is committed to making a reality.
By adopting some of the most aggressive renewable energy standards of any city or state in the country, the District continues to uphold the values of health, opportunity, prosperity, and equity for all residents. As the local utility regulator, the DCPSC plays an integral role in realizing the District’s clean energy future. City leadership and the DCPSC work together to combat the effects of global climate change to create an equitable, healthy, and resilient city.
Clean Energy Commitments
The CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 was signed into law by Mayor Muriel Bowser in March 2019. The Act mandates that 100% of the District’s energy supply comes from renewable energy sources by 2032. By 2041, at least 10% of that energy must come from solar energy generated within the District and greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to 50% below the 2006 baseline by 2032.
One of the major provisions in the Act is the expansion of climate clean energy commitments to District agencies, including the DCPSC. Now, the DCPSC is required to consider the “effects on global climate change and the District’s public climate commitments” into its decisions. As a result, all DCPSC decision-making remains aligned with pursuit of a clean energy future.
Clean Energy Initiatives
The DCPSC works to promote clean energy through the increased use of renewable energy, utility infrastructure upgrades, improved energy efficiency, and outreach and engagement activities.
Renewable Energy: Renewable energy resources power the District without the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions. The DCPSC is doing all it can to help the District reach 100% renewable energy by 2032.
As of April 2022, the DCPSC has certified more than 13,600 solar facilities, including 261 Community Renewable Energy Facilities in the District. This represents a total RPS-certified solar capacity of about 205 MW, exceeding the “solar carve-out” estimated goal. The DCPSC has also approved a process to procure renewable energy through a long-term power purchase agreement for electricity generated by solar or wind power facilities located within PJM with a target quantity of 5% of the SOS load. The Commission also continues to monitor an AltaGas merger commitment to develop 10 MW of clean energy in the District.
Infrastructure: As new technologies and research emerge, investing in infrastructure allows the District to make smart choices that will support its climate goals for years to come. The DCPSC helps to regulate the District utilities’ infrastructure investments to ensure they are safe, reliable, and supportive of climate goals.
The DCPSC approved the third phase of DC PLUG, an innovative public/private partnership between the District and the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) that is improving the reliability and resiliency of the electric distribution system. The DCPSC also approved Pepco’s Capital Grid Project, a long-term electric utility initiative to address aging infrastructure, enhanced system resiliency, improved reliability, and load growth. In addition, The DCPSC has approved Washington Gas Light Company’s (WGL) PROJECTpipes, a 40-year accelerated pipeline replacement program to upgrade the natural gas distribution system in the District.
Energy Efficiency: Energy efficiency programs reduce the amount of energy used by homes and businesses to produce comfort, services, and goods. Energy efficiency offers financial savings for consumers and businesses while also helping to reduce the environmental costs of producing energy. Both Pepco and WGL are proposing to offer energy efficiency programs in the District.
The DCPSC promotes and supports energy efficiency through multiple programs, such as the #WinterReadyDC initiative where we provide free weatherization kits and resources on energy conservation throughout winter. Consumers can also choose their electricity supplier on DC Power Connect, where over 90% of suppliers offer some percentage of renewables in the fuel mix.
Outreach and Engagement: The DCPSC collaborates with District residents and experts for input in decision-making processes. From educating consumers about their renewable energy options to modernizing the electrical grid, the DCPSC affects positive change in the lives of District utility consumers.
In September 2021, the DCPSC hosted the first Clean Energy Summit: Path to Decarbonization, an open event that brought together keynotes and panelists from the White House, U.S. Department of Energy and DC Office of the People’s Counsel , as well as District leaders and state commissioners to discuss how utility regulators and industry leaders can advance progress toward national and local clean energy goals. Through stakeholder working groups meetings, community hearings, and consumer campaigns, the DCPSC has continued to extend its ability to reach District consumers.
The mission of the DCPSC is to serve the public interest by ensuring that financially healthy utility companies provide safe, reliable, and quality utility services at reasonable rates for District customers, while fostering grid modernization, conservation of natural resources, preservation of environmental quality, and advancement of the District’s climate policy commitments. The DCPSC is committed to helping the District reduce greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions. Moreover, in its efforts to modernize the grid in the District, the DCPSC has taken steps that will help facilitate the District in meeting its energy and climate policies set forth in statute and in its clean energy, climate and sustainability plans.
The Path Forward: In Order No. 20662, the Commission opened Formal Case No. 1167 to commence a climate policy proceeding to consider whether and to what extent utility or energy companies under our purview are meeting and advancing the District of Columbia’s energy and climate goals and then take action, where necessary, to guide the companies in the right direction. In this case, the Commission is currently reviewing Pepco’s Climate Solutions Plan, WGL’s Climate Business Plan, and other filings to determine how they would help meet the District of Columbia’s energy and climate goals.
For more information on past and future initiatives, please visit dcpsc.org/cleanenergy.