The D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU) is a private contractor procured by the District of Columbia government primarily responsible for the District’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. The DC SEU helps District residents, businesses, and institutions save energy and money through providing education, technical assistance and funding for energy efficient appliances, energy efficiency building retrofits and renewable energy installations.
The DC SEU’s performance benchmarks include the following goals:
- Reduce energy consumption in the District of Columbia;
- Increase renewable energy generating capacity in the District of Columbia;
- Improve the energy efficiency and renewable energy generating capacity of low-income housing, shelters, clinics, or other buildings serving low-income residents in the District; and
- Increase the number of green-collar jobs in the District of Columbia.
Since the implementation of the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008, which created the DC SEU, the People’s Counsel has served as a statutory member of the DC SEU Advisory Board. The DC SEU’s Advisory Board is responsible for providing advice, comments, and recommendations to the D.C. Council and the District Department of Energy and the Environment on the performance and administration of the DC SEU. OPC EES staff provide ongoing research, analysis, and technical support to the People’s Counsel for monitoring of the DC SEU’s progress and initiatives.
OPC has been committed to providing a voice for consumer advocates, both locally and nationally, in policy discussions about distributed energy resources (DER). OPC is a founding member of the DER Committee of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) and served as Chair of that committee since 2015. The purpose of the NASUCA DER Committee is to share information and establish policies regarding energy efficiency, renewable energy and distribution generation that foster the development of cost-effective programs and promote fairness and value for all consumers. OPC coordinates meetings, presentations, roundtable discussions and panels on various DER topics, throughout the year.
For example, these meetings have included presentations by Katherine Hamilton, Policy Director representing the Energy Storage Association; Karl Rabago and Radina Valova of the Pace Energy and Climate Center on their organization’s involvement in the New York “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) proceeding; Janee Briesemeister on her joint report with consumer affairs consultant Barbara Alexander, giving recommendations for expanding consumer protections for electricity customers who install solar panels; as well as, Tom Schneider, the public advocate in Maine, and Lon Huber of Strategen Consulting on their proposal regarding solar deployment and an alternative to net metering in Maine. Additionally, at the November 2016 NASUCA Annual Meeting, OPC coordinated and moderated a panel on electric vehicle integration which highlighted issues related to cost allocation of EV infrastructure expansion and environmental public policy commitments.
The Office believes that the integration of distributed energy resources, such as solar photovoltaic systems and solar thermal systems, is an important part of advancing the District’s goal of a sustainable energy future for all of its residents.The People’s Counsel has consistently advocated for renewable energy policies that promote equity, affordability, environmental responsibility and reliability in support of the District’s sustainability goals. For example, OPC strongly supported several clean energy legislative initiatives at the Council for the District of Columbia over the past several years. These initiatives include but are not limited to:
- Community Renewable Energy Amendment Act of 2013: established community net metering to enable the development of community-shared renewable energy facilities throughout the District. Community net metering removes the barrier of home ownership from solar energy generation. It allows renters, low-income residents and others to subscribe to a portion of a renewable energy facility and receive a monthly credit for the energy their portion generates.
- Sustainable DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2014: contains a wide array of provisions that facilitate greater sustainable business practices, improved air quality and environmental stewardship such as the styrofoam ban, environmental literacy in DC Public Schools, beekeeping and radon screening. The law also included important energy benchmarking provisions which enable building owners to receive and report on aggregated energy consumption data for their buildings.
- Renewable Portfolio Standard Amendment Act of 2014: eliminated “black liquor” – a toxic by-product of the paper mill industry – from the list of Tier 1 resources under the District’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.
- Renewable Portfolio Standard Expansion Amendment Act of 2016: increases the renewable energy mandate for the District energy portfolio to 50% by 2032, with a 5% solar carve-out. The legislation also establishes the “Solar for All” program focused on increasing solar energy deployment in low-income households.
In addition to advancing local sustainability goals for the District, OPC is committed to representing the interests of DC ratepayers on the regional and federal levels. OPC has been actively engaged in the stakeholder process in PJM Interconnection, LLC and made numerous filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on behalf of DC consumers. OPC is a founding member of Consumer Advocates of the PJM States, Inc. and continues to play an active role in the strategic planning of the organization to ensure that consumers’ voices are heard in the PJM stakeholder process.
What is PJM Interconnection?
PJM Interconnection, LLC is the mid-Atlantic regional transmission organization that manages the grid and coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. PJM is a non-governmental company that is responsible for planning transmission expansions in the mid-Atlantic region, forecasting future loads to be served, maintaining the reliability of the bulk power system and administering several energy markets where power is bought and sold to serve load.
What is the Consumer Advocates of the PJM States, Inc?
OPC was involved in the formation of Consumer Advocates of PJM States, Inc. (CAPS), a non-profit organization established to serve as a resource for all of the consumer advocate agencies in the PJM region and to represent their interests in PJM proceedings. OPC continues to play an active role in the PJM stakeholder process through itsinvolvement in numerous committees and user groups, such as the Markets and Reliability Committee, the Members Committee, Market Implementation Committee,Seasonal Capacity Resources Senior Task Force and the Public Interest Environmental Organization User Group.
What is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission?
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is a federal regulatory agency with jurisdiction over interstate electricity sales, wholesale electric rates, natural gas pricing, hydroelectric licensing and oil pipeline rates. For example, any changes which PJM intends to make to its market rules must first be approved by the FERC. OPC is a party to various proceedings before the FERC which have an impact on DC ratepayers. Indeed, rules established in the wholesale marketplace have a direct impact on retail customer electricity bills because generation costs make up the majority of District ratepayers’ electricity bills.