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.

We’re Winning the Climate Fight! — The Full Story of Cheh’s Climate Bill

We’re Winning the Climate Fight! — The Full Story of Cheh’s Climate Bill

We have news — and it’s quite the mixed bag.

I’ll start with the good news. WE HAVE A BILL! On Tuesday, DC Councilmember Mary Cheh finally introduced a climate bill. The “Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018” features policies that, if passed, will significantly cut emissions and place DC among the frontrunners of states and cities fighting climate change. The bill reflects our campaign’s hard-won principles of strong, economy-wide emission reductions with a focus on equity, and that is a true victory that would not be happening without your tireless advocacy.

Before I get to the bad news, I have a quick favor to ask: Will you send a message to Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie of Ward 5 asking him to do everything in his power to advance and pass this strong climate bill? It will need to move through his committee this fall. Take one minute to send a message right now.

Now on to the bad news. What’s hard to believe, and impossible to celebrate, is that Cheh left the carbon fee out of this bill. This happened despite her public commitment of support for the carbon-pricing policy and her repeated expressions of confidence that a majority of the Council would support a carbon fee. And after two years of passionate community support and careful analysis generated by our campaign, we were shocked when she turned her back at the last minute.Camila Thorndike speaking w Cheh at bill intro

When Councilmember Cheh announced her re-worked version of the climate bill at the Wilson Building on July 10th, I sat feet away from the dais busy with Councilmembers and staff, in an out-of-body experience of conflicting emotions. This was the day you and I worked for years to realize.

But part of my heart was broken and betrayed. Local leadership on the most powerful solution for a just and livable future, a carbon fee and rebate, had evaporated just weeks after Cheh’s office had proposed moving forward with the strong carbon price we endorsed.

Part of me was irate. This about-face happened because of the power of the fossil fuel industry. Near the very end of months of working group meetings with business lobbyists, Washington Gas proposed to swap the carbon fee for a modest increase on the preexisting Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF), raising funds for commercial energy efficiency programs. Big business and utilities want all carrots, no stick. A well-designed and steadily increasing carbon price holds polluters accountable for the damages of climate change. Unfortunately, the Councilmember let them off the hook.

Yet another part of me was incredibly impressed — by our movement. Although Cheh’s omnibus bill falls short of our expectations, it features a very strong set of landmark policies that will significantly enhance the District’s commitment to clean energy and energy conservation. The final effect of the bill is that all dirty energy is made slightly more expensive in the city, dirty electricity is phased out completely by 2032, and the revenue raised from the bill — an estimated $26 million in year one — would be invested in green infrastructure and other programs.

Not bad, not bad at all.

Similar to a carbon tax in Boulder, Colorado, the SETF fee proposed in Cheh’s bill would apply to electricity generated by fossil fuels. It goes beyond the Boulder approach by including a modest fee on natural gas and fuel oil too. The bill also increases DC’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to require that 100% of the District’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2032, and requires suppliers to purchase a high percentage of their energy through long-term renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs). This would establish the strongest such goal in the country. (Yes, very cool). It would also establish strong building efficiency standards and would allocate 20% of the funds raised by the energy fee for rate-payer assistance for low-income households.

So, my friends, mixed bag. We lost a big battle for courageous climate policy, but if we stick together and fight as hard as ever, we are on the way to winning the war for a clean energy transformation in the District.

Will you take one minute to send a message to Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie? His support is key for passing this bill.

Cheh’s suite of ambitious solutions were just great ideas in a report until you came along. Now they are on the way to becoming law. Congratulations on this real progress — seriously. Thank you for fighting so hard to get the District this far.

Activists Attend Bill Introduction

Your advocacy is THE countervailing force to big utilities and businesses who don’t want any climate policy with teeth to pass. We are still in for a big fight. Lobbyists for fossil fuel companies have strong access to Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, chair of the committee through which the bill must pass after Cheh’s committee. So, once again, please, join me in urging McDuffie to advance this bill in its full strength this fall. The opposition is working overtime to bend the Council to their will. We must resist. Take action now!

It’s been a strange week, but thanks to this coalition’s tenacity and good cheer, I am dusting myself off and tightening the boxing gloves. Climate progress depends on grassroots power. The momentum we’ve built together has infused equity into local environmental politics and forced politicians to act. Let’s double down until they finish the job.

Thank you for all your hard work and support. Onwards!

— Camila Thorndike, DC Policy Director at the CCAN Action Fund

We have a (draft) bill.

We have a (draft) bill.

*NOTE: This is a draft bill from the Put a Price On It DC coalition – the final bill released by the DC Council may differ as it is revised and edited.

Big, exciting news from the #PriceItDC coalition!

After years of organizing and deliberating, the coalition has put together a draft of a bill that would place a fee on carbon pollution and rebate the revenue to DC residents. MANY  thanks to the several policy experts, researchers, coalition partners and legislative drafting volunteers who have worked relentlessly to bring the coalition’s vision into reality.

See the bill in full below — click through to see it all!

DC carbon fee_2018_draft


For the visually minded among you, check out this cool graphic showing how the policy would work: