Working together for a clean and affordable energy future!
Some of the powerful and passionate environmental advocates, People's Counsel and staff, who participated in our inaugural conversation to, in the age of climate change, coordinate efforts to protect the health and well-being of all District residents.
DC Environmental Network:

As you know, the District and planet, have reached an important milestone in history when we have to put in place, over the next decade, the plans and programs, and intensive changes to our consumption habits, that can help all of us avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

To get through the next decade successfully, we need to strengthen our relationships with the decision makers and institutions in DC that are committed to both protecting low and moderate income residents, and, equally committed to moving forward with intensive climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

That's why last Thursday, DCEN invited Sandra Mattavous-Frye, from the DC Office of the People's Counsel, to talk with environmental organizations and advocates about how Exelon's (Pepco) request to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to implement a multiyear rate plan and increase distribution rates in the District of Columbia, could hurt the health and well-being of District residents for both economic and environmental reasons.

You can read more here about Sandra's thoughts on the Exelon (Pepco) proposal. Fundamentally Sandra challenged us to engage the Public Service Commission (PSC) and make sure our voices are heard:

"There are several issues that your organizations may be interested in exploring with respect to the rate case:

First, Pepco asserts that a change in ratemaking methodology will advance the District goals. OPC is analyzing and evaluating whether this assertion is valid, but these are questions that your organizations can also ask Pepco. Keep in mind that Pepco is a distribution only company. Consumers can choose their own generation supplier (third Party Suppliers) or they are placed on the default Standard Offer Service (SOS). Any advancement that Pepco claims it may achieve through its regulated arm must square with Pepco’s role as a distribution only utility. 
Second, Pepco’s performance incentive mechanisms need to be reviewed carefully to make sure that they are designed to provide actual benefits and that they do not harm ratepayers or the environment. Additionally, because Pepco is required to provide safe and reliable service, the PIMs need to be reviewed to ensure consumers are not asked to pay more for the service that they should be receiving under the rates that they are already currently paying for. 

Third, we can all likely agree that in order to reach the District’s environmental goals, climate action, conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and non-wires alternatives to capital investment are needed. We encourage your organizations to engage with Pepco in their planning processes to ensure that these efforts are being incorporated in truth and not just in rhetoric."

We definitely need more advocates engaged along these lines during this most important rate case and appreciate the guidance from the Office of People's Counsel.

The DC Environmental Network believes our movement needs to embrace goals that both lift District residents from poverty and increases our efforts, in meaningful ways, to lower our carbon emissions and prepare for the climate change impacts we will not be able to avoid.

This discussion will hopefully be one of many that stimulates the actions necessary to make District utility programs and policies more compassionate and sustainable.

Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network
"Third, we can all likely agree that in order to reach the District’s environmental goals, climate action, conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and non-wires alternatives, capital investment are needed. We encourage your organizations to engage with Pepco in their planning processes to ensure that these efforts are being incorporated in truth and not just in rhetoric." - Sandra Mattavous-Frye, September 5, 2019
DC Climate Leaders Respond!
Here are some focused thoughts and ideas that came out of this discussion, looking forward. Please send yours and I will update this collection. Send to:

Nina Dodge, DC Climate Action:

“The OPC's presentation on Pepco's first multiyear rate case clarified how this case bears on the MEDSIS grid modernization proceeding under way and vice versa. For the first time, Pepco is asking for ratepayers to compensate them for future grid development extending for three years, versus the past approach where compensation was for work already done over a shorter period. In both cases, stakeholders have very little input in what grid modernization is included in Pepco's planning and budgeting. To date, the MEDSIS process has not yielded an integrated grid plan that supports the District's clean energy and climate goals embodied in DC's new Clean Energy DC law. The only plan on the table is Pepco's big budget 3-year, 2020-22 plan that without key elements (such as a specific commitment to deploying the operations management software that will increase the grid's capacity to integrate solar photovoltaic or "hosting capacity") could greatly delay the achievement of DC's goals. If we are to advance urgently the District's clean energy goals, stakeholders must weigh in on Pepco's grid plans and ways to incentivize the utility to support DC's goals - in the DC Public Service Commission's public hearings and related workshops in this proceeding.”

Ari Eisenstadt, DC Conservation Advocate, Audubon Naturalist Society:

"My main concerns surrounding OPC’s case with Pepco and the proposed rate increases are that it is unreasonable to demand higher rates when Pepco’s service is not on track to meeting statutory requirements for renewable energy sourcing. The Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 states that energy suppliers in the district, of which Pepco is the largest, must obtain 20% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020. Currently, Pepco’s latest fuel mix counts renewables as less than 6% of the total fuel mix.

Unless Pepco plans to use rate hikes to increase sustainability of its energy supply, it does the District a disservice by demanding more from its customers without offering higher quality service to match those fees. The Clean Energy DC Act also mandates that large buildings in the city reduce their energy consumption through Building Energy Performance Standards, meaning that overall, the city should be reducing its energy load in the coming years. This makes it even more outrageous for Pepco to forecast high energy loads and raise rates accordingly when the city will actually be using less energy.

I feel so grateful for the Office of the People’s Council, who are ensuring that DC ratepayers are protected in this case. It is crucial that the environmental community demand that the city’s largest energy distributor consider their responsibility to provide consumers with clean electricity at a reasonable and fair price."

John Capozzi, DC Shareholder Activist and Environmental Advocate:

"I appreciate the opportunity to hear all that the OPC is doing to represent DC residents in front of the Utilities and now overseeing DC Water. As individuals, we need to look at a variety of ways to make an impact on the Utilities--which can include shareholder activism, contacting the PSC, City council and the Mayor directly. There's a lot of talent at OPC and we need to share our concerns with them!"

Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

"It's not that hard to see that Exelon, through the Public Service Commission, and their current rate case proposal, is likely hampering the MEDSIS grid modernization process, moving towards locking in unjust rates for low-income ratepayers, and slowing down efforts to implement our latest Clean Energy DC climate bill. Their footprint is even bigger. They are also, through the legal process connected to the Anacostia River Sediment Project, with their advocacy for adaptive management and working hard to limit liability and the scope of the cleanup, are putting toxic pollution remediation on a slow path, and the health of the Anacostia at risk.

Sadly, to the detriment of our urban environment, they are doing their job, which is to increase profits for shareholders. (We should not forget they do not exist to create a clean energy future or to protect and restore the Anacostia River beyond the limited requirements we make of them. That is left to us and the decision makers who we are aligned with.)

The OPC, at this meeting, rightly suggested to the environmental community that we increase engagement both with the PSC and Exelon, and try to get them to support more of our environmental goals in a meaningful way. With climate change we don't have much time to do this.

If we are unsuccessful, we will need to move quickly to make other, bigger changes. Changes like convincing the DC Council to redesign the regulatory framework of the Public Service Commission (PSC) process to create a level playing field for our sustainability priorities. We need structural changes equal to those being pursued by the city of San Francisco who are attempting to take over their energy utility to better align climate mitigation policies with the delivery of energy to San Francisco utility ratepayers.

These two ideas might seem currently impossible here in Washington, DC, but in reality, are the type of change we desperately need to protect ratepayers and win the battle against the worst impacts of climate change."

We all have lots of work to do. More to come!