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.
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.
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.