DC Council Unanimously Passes First Vote for Key Climate Bill

DC Council Unanimously Passes First Vote for Key Climate Bill

Groundbreaking “Clean Energy DC Act” Will Mandate 100% Clean Electricity by 2032, Expected to Become Law by End of This Year
Councilmembers Did Not Yet Vote to Remove Harmful Amendments Inserted by Pepco-Exelon, May Do So in Second Reading

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the DC Council gave preliminary approval to a landmark climate policy called the “Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018,” known as the “Clean Energy DC Act.” The Council voted unanimously in favor of the bill, which would strengthen the District’s renewable electricity requirement to 100 percent by 2032, raise money to weatherize low-income homes, and more. Councilmember Robert White (At-Large) did not vote because he was not present, but he is a co-sponsor of the bill.

The vote took place in the wake of an alarming new federal report showing climate change is already affecting Americans nationwide, including residents of DC. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, released by the Trump Administration the day after Thanksgiving in an apparent effort to reduce news coverage, paints an alarming picture of current and future economic and humanitarian harm to Americans unless the US and nations worldwide transition off of fossil fuels very quickly.

The “Clean Energy DC Act” would put DC on the fastest timeline to 100 percent clean electricity in the country — California recently passed a bill for 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. It would cut DC’s total emissions almost in half by 2032. The DC Council is expected to vote on this bill for the second time on December 18, after which it will be sent to Mayor Muriel Bowser for her signature.

“Thanks to our DC Councilmembers, we are on track to pass one of the strongest climate laws in the country,” said Camila Thorndike, DC Campaign Director at the CCAN Action Fund, sister organization of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “It’s inspiring to see the full strength of our coalition in these culminating moments. I particularly applaud the Councilmembers who have taken a stance against Pepco’s closed-door tactics to monopolize our energy future, and hope the rest do the same in the second reading. If we go along with the status quo, the results will be devastating. We need a new energy policy for a new District, just blocks from Trump’s White House, and with the Clean Energy DC Act, we can make it happen.”

Today the Council also refrained from voting down a concerning amendment that could undermine the energy efficiency portion of the bill and could have a negative impact on DC ratepayers. The amendment, which was added in by Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5) at the suggestion of Exelon-Pepco days before the vote, would give Pepco authority over how efficiency investments are made, undercutting the longstanding decisions DC has made to support independent-run efficiency programs instead. In the Committee of Environment and Transportation meeting on the bill, Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) explained how it could allow Pepco to “double dip” — to charge ratepayers twice for the same energy efficiency investments. Councilmember McDuffie passed out a revised version of the amendments before today’s vote just minutes before they were accepted. According to Councilmember Allen, the revised amendments addressed some of the concerns but he expects to further address the amendments before the second reading instead.

“The Sierra Club is happy the DC Council has taken the first vote in favor of what would be one of the strongest clean energy bills in the nation,” said Mark Rodeffer, Chair of the Sierra Club DC Chapter. “But our work for the climate isn’t done, and on the second vote, we ask that the Council restore a provision for long-term power purchase agreements for renewable energy. Pepco had this part of the bill killed in the dark of night, and as a result, DC’s greenhouse gas emissions will go up 8.1 percent and electricity customers’ bills will go up as well.”

“The DC Council will give my new baby girl the best gift ever — an ambitious plan to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy,” said Payal Shah Martin of Moms Clean Air Force. “It appears that enough council members support this bill to ensure that it becomes law. I can’t wait to send thank you notes to the Council after they pass this bill without secretive changes from dirty energy lobbyists.”

“D.C.’s clean energy bill is a win for working people, who are the most vulnerable to climate change. The clean energy bill will go a long way towards ensuring that clean air and water are a right for everyone, not a privilege enjoyed only by the wealthy,” said Jaime Contreras, 32BJ SEIU Vice President.

“This is a huge win for District residents and the thousands of activists who fought to make this city a global climate leader,” said Justin McCarthy, Communications Director of the DC Statehood Green Party. “I can’t think of a more fitting or symbolic place to pass the most aggressive climate legislation in the country than the nation’s capital city of Washington, DC. Make no mistake, this win is part of a larger movement both here in the District and across the country, and we have no intention of slowing down. Tomorrow we get right back to work.”

In addition to dramatically expanding the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the “Clean Energy DC Act” also takes aim at emissions from home heating and transportation. It would scale up an existing heating bill surcharge called the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF), which would raise tens of millions of dollars to finance renewable energy projects and provide assistance to low-income DC residents.

The bill would create efficiency standards for new and existing buildings and would fund local programs to assist low-income residents as the District transitions to more sustainable clean energy systems. It would also adjust the vehicle excise tax to incentivize clean cars and make owning dirty vehicles more expensive. The legislation also authorizes the District to put a price on transportation fuels if Virginia and Maryland commit to the same.

The “DC Climate Coalition” is comprised of more than 110 environmental and justice advocacy organizations, faith groups, unions, consumer advocacy organizations, DC businesses, and more.

Denise Robbins, Communications Director, CCAN Action Fund, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 608-620-8819
Barbara Briggs, 350 DC, barbarahbriggs@gmail.com, 412-417-9384
Justin McCarthy, DC Climate Coalition, jlawrencemccarthy@gmail.com, 540-312-3797

URGENT: 11th hour. Clean Energy DC set to pass. But we need your help.

URGENT: 11th hour. Clean Energy DC set to pass. But we need your help.

By Camila Thorndike

I’m here today to give you some good news… and some deeply alarming news.

The good news is this: After years of mobilizing this campaign, the DC Council is geared to pass “Clean Energy DC Act” before Christmas! The bill was passed out unanimously out of two Council committees this morning, and will soon go to the full Council for a vote. That means DC will soon become a national leader on climate policy. Yes!!!

Now here’s the bad: At the very last minute, the Chicago-based utility Exelon — which owns Pepco — snuck in an amendment that would undercut the efficiency measures in the bill, and boost its coffers at the expense of DC ratepayers.

The full DC Council is voting on the Clean Energy DC Act for the first time on Tuesday, November 27, so every single Councilmember needs to hear from YOU.

Please send a message to your Councilmember today asking them to REMOVE Pepco’s awful efficiency amendments and PASS a Clean Energy DC Act that is strong and fair.

The Clean Energy DC Act would move the city toward 100 percent clean electricity by 2032, create groundbreaking energy efficiency standards, raise money to weatherize low-income homes, provide major incentives for electric cars, and much more. After months of deliberating, the bill reflects our campaign’s hard-won principles of strong, economy-wide emission reductions with a focus on equity.

But Pepco’s end-run amendments could cause direct harm to ratepayers. It would allow the utility to recoup the costs of energy efficiency investments in the form of increased electricity bills, and it would allow the utility to recover revenue lost from those efficiency improvements. As Councilmember Charles Allen said in the Committee of Environment and Transportation meeting today, it allows Pepco to charge ratepayers twice for the same investments.

The last-minute amendments would also give the utility total monopoly control over how efficiency investments are made, undercutting the longstanding decisions DC has made to support independent-run efficiency programs instead. Why resist monopoly-run efficiency programs? Because the company running it — Pepco — is in the business of selling electricity, so the company has an incentive to sell as much as possible—not conserve. It’s a direct conflict of interest.

The Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 created the Sustainable Energy Utility  for just this reason. The SEU is an independent administration that administers DC’s current efficiency programs, allowing for a competitive bidding process to undertake efficiency work. Pepco’s amendments would take entire customer base away from SEU.

Meanwhile, the simple fact that they introduced these amendments at the 11th hour is cause for great concern. The proposed changes have received no analysis or public comment. In its testimony before the Committees, Pepco did not discuss this issue at all. This 11th-hour effort has the apparent goal of avoiding the public scrutiny the rest of this bill has received.

Hundreds of supporters of the Clean Energy DC Act have testified in over 20 hours of public hearings, made hundreds of calls, and sent in thousands of letters.

NOW is the time to take this incredibly valuable bill across the finish line.

Send a message to your DC Councilmembers today. Tell them to PASS the Clean Energy DC Act and REPEAL Exelon’s deceitful amendments.

The climate can’t wait, and neither can we. Even with the amendments, the Clean Energy DC Act will cut DC emissions up to 50 percent by 2032. After three hard-fought years of progress uniting more than 110 organizations, businesses, and neighborhood groups, it is time to pass strong and equitable climate and clean energy policy right here in DC.

Thanks for all you do.

Residents Draw The Line For Change

Residents Draw The Line For Change

By Shykeia Spinks

WASHINGTON, DC ⎼ According to 10,630 DC residents, it’s time to pass the Clean Energy DC Act. Many of them turned out yesterday, along with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), to decorate the halls of the Council with signed petitions as well as hand deliver them to council members.

CCAN kicked the day off by stringing more than 10,000 signed petitions together in a blue and green banner. Residents then, stood side by side with it to span the width of the first floor of the Council building. Together, they “drew the line” for climate action.

The inspirational event ended with DC residents going office by office with a simple message “The climate can’t wait, and neither can we.” Years of progress calls for a strong and equitable climate and clean energy policy right here in DC.

If you are a DC resident, you can lend your voice to the cause. “Send a message to your council members”, said Camila Thorndike, DC Campaign Director at the CCAN Action Fund.

“This needs to pass out of Councilmember McDuffie’s committee by November 28, if it’s then going to go to the committee of the whole for the two votes that it will need to become alive this year.” 

Passing the Clean Energy Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 puts DC economically and financially forward. Click HERE to send a message to your Councilmembers asking them to pass it today!

Click HERE to relive the excitement of the day and see a video of the historical petition drop!


Clean Energy DC Act Set to Spike Down an Endless Summer

Clean Energy DC Act Set to Spike Down an Endless Summer

By Ashlai Murray

WASHINGTON, DC ⎼ On Monday, October 29, in a park across the street from the John A. Wilson building, supporters of the Clean Energy DC Act and CCAN played a game of beach volleyball. The game aimed to promote “endless summer” temperatures if the bill to climate change isn’t addressed by the DC Council. The final vote is scheduled for December 1.

The Wilson building was the site of the final public hearing on the Clean Energy DC Act with councilmember Kenyan McDuffie. Before the final hearing, dozens of climate advocates testified to urge DC Council to act on the climate change and protect their communities and generations to come.

Sergio Martinez, a Catholic University graduate, testified on the importance of passing the Clean Energy DC Act as a way to care for neighbors and communities. “As policy-makers, you have the opportunity to act on climate, protecting our neighbors in DC,” he stated.

Leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Protestant and Catholic faith traditions also testified in favor of the Clean Energy Act. Avery Davis Lamb, director of Faithful Advocacy said, “Climate change and clean energy change is a moral issue that deeply affects our communities, that is why we are here together today to speak out in faith and support the Clean Energy Act.”

Darcy Hirsh of the, Jewish Community Council stated, “The Jewish community has a sacred imperative for creation of our world. Setting the District on a path to 100% clean energy is a moral necessity.”

The climate is rapidly changing and, according to recent reports, world leaders have less than 15 years to take extreme action and prevent damage to the earth. Passing the Clean Energy DC Act bill is the answer to the IPCC.

Hopeful Future for DC in the Face of UN Report

Hopeful Future for DC in the Face of UN Report

By Camila Thorndike


The “Clean Energy DC Act” gains momentum with a huge turn out at city council hearing after the shocking United Nations report on the environment.

Just after the Senate confirmed an anti-environment majority to the Supreme Court, the United Nations released a new report that says we have a mere ten years to cut the rate of global carbon emissions in half. Gut punch.

So Tuesday’s incredible hearing for the “Clean Energy DC Act” could not have come at a better time, and despite all the turmoil, it was an AMAZING day.

And here’s the even better news: Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie has scheduled the next hearing in his committee on Business and Economic Development!

Please join me in thanking Councilmember McDuffie for scheduling a hearing to advance the Clean Energy DC Act through his committee. Politicians get a lot of heat for inaction on climate — let’s be sure to thank them when they do the right thing!

The room was packed at Tuesday’s hearing. About 90 people signed up to testify in Councilmember Cheh’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment — and nearly all of them testified in strong support. Experts testified that 100% clean electricity by 2032 is not only possible, but that the target date should be moved up to 2026. Advocates praised the groundbreaking proposed energy efficiency standards for existing buildings, which are the largest source of local pollution, as well as new funding for the Green Bank and Sustainable Energy Utility.



There’s nothing like seven straight hours of climate calls to action to leave a gal feeling hopeful and empowered again!

While Councilmember Cheh’s hearing gave us a much-needed boost of energy, rest assured that the opposition isn’t going to let this big bill just walk over the finish line. They are hyping up concerns about ratepayer impacts — but ignoring the costs of inaction. They are arguing we need more time for study — as if the last three years of stakeholder dialogues haven’t sufficed. They are acknowledging the severity of the climate crisis in one side of their mouth, and out of the other, saying “not this, not now, not here.”

At Councilmember McDuffie’s hearing on the Clean Energy DC Act, we’ll need to turn out in even bigger numbers, with even more persuasive stories on why it’s time the District stepped up to the climate challenge.

But for now, please send Councilmember McDuffie a message of thanks for scheduling a hearing on this critical bill!

The hearing is scheduled for October 29 at 10:00 am, so mark your calendars (and you’ll be hearing more from us on that soon). In the meantime, we encourage you to submit written testimony in support of the Clean Energy DC Act to the committee staff, Ms. Benjamin, at abenjamin@dccouncil.us. Written testimony will be accepted until October 23rd. Reply to this email for talking points or any questions about how to submit testimony!

See you soon, friends, and thank you for all your hard work on this campaign of hope.