A Note from Your People's Counsel
How did you fare during #windmageddon, the nor’easter that fiercely blew winds up to 70 mph over the Washington region?
When the news of severe weather surfaces, OPC always revs up. For example, OPC’s March 1, 2018 consumer alert the day before Winter Storm Riley advised consumers to be ready with necessary supplies in case their electricity went out. Moreover, I was in daily contact with Pepco officials to get updates on outages and restorations, and shared updates on social media.
Pepco reports that by March 7 th crews had restored service to the more than 252,000 customers in the District and Maryland who lost power. OPC appreciates the around-the-clock work performed by the women and men on the ground to get all the lights back on.
Speaking of important work on the ground of a different kind, I am proud of the casework performed by OPC staff. Recently, I informed the DC Council that during fiscal year 20l7, my staff handled 2,349 consumer complaints and closed 95 percent of the cases. I talked about this success and gave other examples of how OPC is carrying out its mission to advocate, educate and protect consumers at the Office’s annual performance oversight hearing. Resolving complaints not only benefits individual consumers, but also helps us identify broad trends.
Here’s another thumbs up...to the Council for final passage of the Community Residential Facilities Third-Party Notice of Utility Disconnection Requirement Act. OPC provided technical assistance to Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon T. Todd in drafting the legislation. It requires utilities to provide 30 days’ notice before disconnecting services in facilities that house seniors and other vulnerable residents.
You can read my entire oversight testimony here. It will give you an idea of why consumer confidence in OPC is as high as ever.
Pepco wants to upgrade and fortify the transmission infrastructure that helps deliver electricity to residential and other customers in the District. Pepco filed a request for phase 1 of the project, called the Capital Grid Project, in May 2017 with the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia. Pepco informed the Commission it would submit the phase II application in 2018. The Commission must approve Pepco’s plan first, before Pepco can begin. If approved, Pepco will be able to collect an estimated $1 billion from ratepayers for a project that will span a decade or more.
OPC filed comments to persuade the Commission that Pepco’s 2017 request for authorization raised more questions than it answers about the need and cost to District ratepayers and therefore should not be approved.
In mid-February 2018, the Commission concluded that Pepco’s request should be reviewed as a whole by the PSC instead of in two separate sections and directed the Company to refile its request as a single, comprehensive application. The Commission also found that Pepco’s 2017 application was deficient and directed Pepco to answer a series of questions posed by the Commission and to include in its comprehensive application, an assessment of the alternative to building one of the substations proposed by the District Department of Energy & Environment.
After Pepco files the new request to build the Capital Grid Project, OPC will review the request carefully to make sure that Pepco’s request to embark on this massive capital improvement project is in the interest of the public Pepco will expect to pay for it.
Highlighting Feedback from Consumers
Barbara Morgan, right, Member Emeritus, DC Federation of Civic Associations, Vice President, Dupont Park Civic Association, 2 nd Vice President, 6 th District Citizens Advisory Council:
“OPC is recognized as a leader in utility consumer advocacy. With all that is happening with the District’s utilities – mergers, major WGL pipeline replacement and meter relocation projects, and choices of renewable energy sources – consumers need effective, proactive utility consumer advocacy. OPC must continue to educate DC residents about Third Party Energy suppliers, provide information about solar energy services, and advocate for DC Water consumers...DC’s 'Seasoned Citizens' want -- and need -- effective advocacy.” (As presented at the DC Council FY 2017 OPC oversight hearing, February 27, 2018.)
OPC is advocating for consumers in the following cases:
Formal Case No.1144 - In the Matter of the Application of the Potomac Electric Power Company's Notice to Construct Two 230kV Underground Circuits from the Takoma Substation to the Rebuilt Harvard Substation and from the Rebuilt Harvard Substation to the Rebuilt Champlain Substation (Capital Grid Project)
On February 1, OPC's Filed Reply Comments Concerning Pepco's Formal Notice of Construction of the Capital Grid Project. OPC’s Comments express the need for a collaborative design process and the need to consider the District’s energy conservation initiatives.
Formal Case No. 874 - In the Matter of the Gas Acquisition Strategies of the District of Columbia Natural Gas, a Division of the Washington Gas Light Company (Gas Procurement Working Group)
On February 6, by letter to WGL, OPC the Company be prepared to respond to listed questions, at the following Gas Procurement Working Group meeting.
Formal Case No. 1150 - Pepco's Rate Application
On February 14, OPC Filed a Motion for Leave to Respond and Response to Order No. 19263.
RM27-2014-01 - In the Matter of the Commission's Investigation into the rules governing Local Exchange Carrier Quality of Service Standards for the District.
On February 16, OPC Filed Reply Comments in Response to the Second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. OPC’s Comments rebutted Verizon’s assertions that there is a lack of need for quality of service standards.
Formal Case No. 1133 - Washington Gas Light Company’s Application for Approval of Special Contract
On February 23, OPC Filed Initial Comments in this matter. WGL is seeking Commission approval of a Special Contract between the Company and the GSA on behalf of the Architect of the Capitol and, for the first time, a Central Heating Plant. OPC’s comments express concern regarding the impact of the contract on residential ratepayers.
Formal Case No. 1148 - In the Matter of the Investigation into the Establishment and Implementation of Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation Programs Targeted Towards Both Affordable Multifamily Units and Mastered Metered Multifamily Buildings Which Include Low and Limited Income Residents in the District of Columbia
On February 28, OPC Filed Reply Comments in Response to Order No. 19145 as amended by Order No. 19264. OPC’s comments requested that the Commission ensure that any energy-efficiency- and energy-conservation ("EEEC") programs established and implemented in this proceeding meet the public interest and assist the maximum number of DC's most vulnerable District energy ratepayers/consumers.
Consumer Complaint 2017-9075225 – Joemah v. Pepco
On February 28, OPC Filed a Petition for Review at the DC Court of Appeals regarding a Decision at the Public Service Commission to Deny an Application of Reconsideration regarding a Service Quality Dispute Regarding Electric Disconnection for Maintenance Purposes.
Click here to read: “Sandra Mattavous-Frye: Power Gladiator,” a feature in “Compassions.” The newsletter salutes the People’s Counsel and five other “Sheroes...who have scored grand, granular and ever-moving triumphs. They have made their mark in advocacy, journalism, labor rights, peace and political empowerment.”
At the opening of the DC Infrastructure Academy and Career Fair, People’s Counsel Mattavous-Frye chats with a job-seeker about OPC services. Located in Ward 8, the Academy will train DC residents for careers with utilities. Workforce training & jobs for residents were benefits OPC insisted must be included in the Pepco-Exelon merger plan.
People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye with law clerks of the DC Court of Appeals after discussing her career journey as part of the Court’s Distinguished Speakers Series.
Assistant People's Counsel Thaddeus Johnson represents OPC at a meeting of the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee. Emergency communications during disasters was among the topics.
Kids are excited about getting OPC purple bags at the Browne Education Campus where Community Services Specialist Denise Blackson teaches energy efficiency.
OPC will be out at the following events:
Project Empowerment Orientation
Location: DC Dept. of Employment Services - 4058 Minnesota Ave. NE
Time: 9:45 am - 10:30 am
Friends of Kingman Park Civic Assoc.
Location: Car-barn - 1400 East Capitol Street, NE
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: 7th District Police Dept. - 2455 Alabama Ave. SE
Time: 7:00 pm- 9:00 PM
DCPS – Browne Education Campus
Location: 850 26th Street NE
Time: 4:00 PM - 5:00 pm
Senior Saints Community Presentation & Workshop
Location: New Samaritan Baptist Church - 1100 Florida Ave, NE
Time: 11:30 am -1:00 pm
Energy Efficiency Workshop
Location: Wheatley Elementary School - 1299 Neal Street, NE
Time: 4:00 pm-5:00 pm
Anacostia Coordinating Council Board Meeting
Location: THEARC - 1901 Mississippi Avenue SE, West Building
Time: 6:00 pm- 9:00 pm
Easter Egg Hunt
Location: Marvin Gaye Greening Center - 5000 Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE
Time: 3:00 pm