Leveraging Solar to Help Meet DC’s Renewable Energy Goals
The District of Columbia agrees to adhere to the CleanEnergy Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 (Clean Energy Act). The CleanEnergy Act codifies several key initiatives identified in the DC plan for clean energy, the district’s detailed energy and climate action plan aimed at halving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2032. The law increases the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS), putting the District on the path to 100% renewable energy by 2032, with 10% solar electricity by 2041.
As a regulator of utilities, the District of Columbia Civil Service Commission (DCPSC) has an important role to play in helping the District achieve its energy and climate goals. The DCPSC takes into account the District’s climate commitments when making political decisions, which have created, expanded or improved several climate initiatives.
As a result, DCPSC has seen a significant increase in solar generation across the district and is putting in place clean energy policies and rules that bring together stakeholders, decision makers, residents and businesses to find solutions. innovative projects making it possible to achieve the district’s climate objectives.
Pivot to solar
To help residents and businesses switch to solar power, DCPSC has implemented an efficient and automated RPS application process. Last year, DCPSC staff received a record 2,835 requests through a new RPS certification portal. Willie L. Phillips, President of DCPSC, said: “Over the past two years, staff have worked with external stakeholders and the regulated electric utility, Pepco, to further streamline the process.
DCPSC will continue to improve its RPS application process and rules for small generator interconnection standards for regulated utilities.
Promote solar energy
The DCPSC is also looking for innovative solutions for residents. In 2020, the DCPSC implemented three changes to improve solar adoption:
- Elimination of the requirement for a community renewable energy installation (CREF) to connect directly to the distribution grid. This rule change will facilitate the development of virtual CREFs, using a behind the meter (BTM) configuration that helps reduce costs while maintaining safety and reliability.
- Revision of Net Energy Metering (NEM) rules allowing individual BTM producers to exceed 100% of historical customer usage and customer payment for excess generation. Phillips explained, “An NEM system can increase the generation threshold by 20% per year, from 2020 until the generation threshold reaches 200% in 2024.”
- Publication of two regulatory proposal notices to further improve and accelerate the interconnection of renewable energy installations, including CREFs.
The DCPSC has made significant progress in certifying renewable energy facilities for the RPS program. Solar power systems represent the vast majority of approved renewables, nearly 11,500 as of June 1, 2021, with a capacity of 170.5 MW. The DCPSC has also certified 164 CREF, with a capacity of nearly 20 MW.
Partnership with stakeholders
The DCPSC seeks to establish partnerships with stakeholders to ensure that the selected projects align with the PowerPath CC vision statement and guiding principles. the PowerPath DC Pilot Projects Governance Council was developed to help DCPSC allocate funds from the Pepco Holdings Inc.-Exelon merger towards pilot projects for the modernization of energy systems. Phillips said, “DCPSC benefits from a wide range of expertise and ideas from local DC organizations and agencies that inform the development of these innovative projects.”
The DCPSC also maintains close relations with the District Energy and Environment Department and DC Sustainable Energy Utility, which help residents, businesses and communities access solar power. “DCPSC fully supports the DOEE-initiated Solar for All program, which aims to provide 100,000 low-income families with clean, locally produced energy and cut their energy bills in half in the process,” said Phillips.
Additionally, DCPSC continues to lobby for renewable considerations with its utilities. The DCPSC recently set up a pilot program for the supply of renewable energy through long-term PWA for electricity produced by solar or wind facilities in the PJM interconnection area. The renewable energy supply of this pilot PPA is currently expected to start serving the target amount of 5% of the SOS load around 2025. By integrating solar and renewable energy into Pepco’s default service program, the DCPSC will advance the district’s GHG reduction target while promoting the construction of new renewable facilities in the PJM region.
Finally, the DCPSC works closely with a group of stakeholders to develop the analytical approach that the DCPSC should take when examining the effects of a public service proposal on global climate change and the country’s public policy commitments. district.
While the DCPSC has worked hard to establish solar power as a solid foundation to help the district meet the goals of the CleanEnergy Act, there is still work to be done.
Over the next year, DCPSC will authorize pilot projects and assess the commercial viability of these pilot projects, as well as update interconnection rules to ensure the expansion of solar opportunities for residential, commercial and community customers. In the longer term, DCPSC will continue to take steps to realize the PowerPath DC vision of a modernized grid, and these steps will also help the district meet its energy and climate policies set out in law and in its clean energy, climate and climate change. sustainability plans.