The District’s record heatwave, with temperatures lingering around the 100-degree mark, has spurred D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to sign legislation requiring Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) to procure 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2032 for its customers in the city, and 5 percent of its electricity from solar cells.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
“This week’s extreme heat and our volatile weather, including last week’s hail storm and this winter’s blizzard, are examples of the impacts climate change will continue to have on our city and the planet,” said Department of Energy and Environment Director Tommy Wells in a press release. “The Renewable Portfolio Standard bill expands the set of tools we need to address and mitigate the effects of climate change in the District and will help keep us on track to meet our Sustainable Heatwave Spurs Mayor Bowser to Institute New Energy Plan with Pepco DC goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent and to ensure renewables make up at least 50 percent of the District’s energy supply by 2032.”
City officials estimate that the plans for low-income solar will create at least 100 jobs in the first year alone, and this follows an agreement between the city and non-profit GRID Alternatives to provide young residents of D.C. with paid training in solar panel installation, energy efficiency, and safety and construction skills.
This is a substantial increase on the city’s previous target of 20 percent by 2020, and gives Washington D.C. the fifthstrongest renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policy in the United States, after Hawaii (100 percent by 2045), Vermont (75 percent by 2032), California and New York (both 50 percent by 2030). It positions the city ahead of Oregon, which increased its RPS to 50 percent by 2040 for large investor-owned utilities last year.
As part of the program, the city plans to install solar panels on 6,000 low-income homes annually, and reach over 100,000 low-income homes by 2032.
The new law also raises new penalties should PEPCO not comply with the mandate in any given year. According to current legislation, Bill 21-650: “If an electricity supplier fails to comply with the renewable energy portfolio standard for the applicable year, the electricity supplier must pay a compliance fee of fifty cents 2011-2016, 35 cents in 2017, 30 cents in 2018, and 20 cents in 2019- 2020 for each kilowatt-hour of shortfall from required solar energy sources. This would be increased to fifty cents per kilowatt-hour 2016-2023, and 40 cents per kilowatt-hour between 2024-2028.”