In celebration of Earth Day, the Office of the People’s Counsel is pleased to join the Washington Informer’s 2018 Sustainability and Energy Supplement. OPC welcomes this opportunity to share the work we are doing on behalf of District of Columbia consumers to promote and achieve a sustainable DC. As People’s Counsel, I am obligated to advocate on behalf of District consumers of natural gas, electricity and telecommunications services to ensure consumers are charged rates that are just and affordable; and are provided service that is safe and reliable.
As we execute our mission, OPC is committed to advocating for sustainable policies and for local utilities to integrate more energy efficient resources into the power distribution grid, thereby reducing energy and utility costs for DC consumers.
The need to update the grid at reasonable costs to produce affordable rates is one of the most important issues we face. OPC fiercely advocates for the cost-effective integration of distributed energy resources such as solar, wind, battery storage and electric vehicles into the retail and wholesale markets. OPC is focusing on this issue by providing input on a regulatory proceeding before the DC Public Service Commission (PSC) entitled Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability (MEDSIS/Formal Case No. 1130).
In this case, OPC’s key goals are to: (1) cooperate in creating an effective grid modernizing plan that will strengthen the resiliency and reliability of the District’s energy delivery system; (2) allow optimal utilization of all viable distributed energy resource options such as solar and wind power; and (3) provide all District ratepayers access to the benefits of sustainable energy options. OPC continues to be committed to working with the PSC and other parties to meet the challenge of developing a modernized energy distribution system in a cost-effective manner.
OPC is embracing a sustainable DC through our participation in academic studies that will help inform the public and policy makers as they charge ahead on the sustainability front. Most recently, OPC was awarded a federal grant from the Clean Energy States Alliance “Solar Innovation Network” to study the placement of solar within the District of Columbia. Upon its completion, we look forward to sharing the results with the public.
Meeting the District’s sustainability goals is a collaborative effort that requires engaging many District agencies. For example, the District Department of Energy & Environment launched the ambitious Solar for All program in 2017 with the purpose of reducing the electric bills of low and limited-income DC residents. OPC has taken an active role as a member of the Solar for All working group, and as chair of the group’s Consumer Education Committee. As the multi-year program is implemented, we continue to monitor its stages; and will integrate it into our outreach and education programs to keep the community updated on the initiative’s progress. OPC’s advocacy and active role in promoting distributed energy resources, enhancing service reliability and ensuring affordable rates, are critical steps toward achieving a sustainable DC.
OPC implements various outreach programs and creates timely publications to expose consumers to energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives. OPC recently published “A DC Consumer’s Guide to Going Solar.” Designed to be simple and informative, the guide offers District residents a step-by-step roadmap to bringing solar to their home or business. The brochure includes information on the installation process and consumer protections, among other useful topics.
We also are excited to announce the launching of several new initiatives, including expanding our working partnership with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, and DC Public Schools to teach young people about energy efficiency and how they can help their parents save money on utility bills; and developing an “Energy Affordability Hub,” which will be an interactive training facility aimed at educating consumers about the latest tools and tips to become more energy efficient at home.
As we celebrate Earth Day, I encourage all District residents to join the Office of the People’s Counsel in helping our city meet its sustainable energy goals. With the emergence of solar, wind, electric vehicles and other clean energy technology, OPC remains committed to making sure the benefits of these adopted technologies are shared across all eight wards of the District.
For more information on the work we are doing to foster sustainability, visit opc-dc.gov, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.