The OPC CONNECTION - October 2019

 

A Note from ​​Your People's Counsel

Sandra Mattavous-Frye

Take Command!

In developing Take Command, OPC looked at some of the best educational brochures of consumer advocates around the country before choosing this design, which unfolds into a colorful poster. We expect individuals and organizations will want to save the handout and repeatedly refer to it when addressing a wide range of utility matters.

Inside, you will find tips for addressing special medical needs, billing disputes, service disconnection, payment negotiations, power outages and many other common challenges. On the reverse side of the poster is information about many of the programs designed to help consumers pay utility bill debt.

We hope you will share a copy with a neighbor, constituent or colleague. Click: Take Command of Your Utility Rights or the cover below; or contact OPC at (202) 727-3071 to arrange to get copies for your community group, tenant organization, nonprofit or small business. This new brochure is yet another way of showing you how OPC Can Help!

 

OPC Receives "All Star Award"

Over the past century, the energy infrastructure has been fairly static in how energy is generated and delivered. However, over the past 15 years, there has been a rapid evolution in this industry. Technological innovations have been incorporated into the infrastructure, enabling new means of generation, storage and service options to be available to consumers.This evolution has been dubbed the "smart grid." OPC has been very involved in this energy transformation, but our primary focus has been on how the needs of the consumer should guide the evolution of the smart grid.

 At the Smart Grid Customer Education Symposium on October 29, SmartEnergy IP recognized OPC's "outstanding work in educating consumers about smart energy." People's Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye (pictured above with Keishaa Austin, project manager of the OPC smart model home, and Juliet Shavit, President of SmartEnergy IP) accepted the "Innovation All Star Award.”

 The symposium explored a range of issues impacting the evolving energy industry. OPC, along with utility industry representatives, discussed how to engage consumers as the electric grid is modernized. OPC’s presentation focused on consumer issues such as equitable access, education on the technology’s capabilities and affordability for sustainable energy usage. Specifically, OPC discussed its experience with the PowerCentsDC pilot program that operated in the District of Columbia from 2008-2009 and highlighted best practices in consumer engagement. OPC also covered its active participation in the grid modernization proceeding, Power Path DC, formerly known as MEDSIS/Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability, before the DC Public Service Commission.

OPC’s input, along with the other panelists, will serve to answer one of the most pressing questions facing consumer advocates, utility companies, and regulators – what role do consumers play in the road to grid modernization?

Mayor Bowser addresses and takes questions from OPC staff.

On October 8, People's Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye welcomed Mayor Muriel Bowser to OPC's offices.The visit was a part of the Mayor's initiative to connect with independent agencies of the District government.

The Mayor used the occasion to swear-in the People's Counsel to her third term. In addition, she presented certificates of appreciation to longtime OPC employees, Jean Gross-Bethel, Laurence Jones, Naunihal "Nick" Gumer, and Linda Jefferson, for decades of DC government service.

In her remarks, Mayor Bowser acknowledged goals shared by her Administration and OPC, including expanding access to solar programs in all eight wards and addressing consumer concerns about DC Water bills. She also toured OPC's new Energy Affordability Lab and Water Services Division, pictured below.

OPC presented Graylin Presbury with the "Lifetime Consumer Advocate Award," at the 89th Annual Awards & Scholarship Luncheon of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations on October 26. OPC annually recognizes a lay advocate who contributes to the community in numerous ways. Deputy People's Counsel Karen Sistrunk, pictured, recognized Presbury, the Federation's President, for his "tireless dedication and unwavering advocacy for District residents."

New Programs Offer Free and Discounted Lead Pipe Replacement

OPC wants you to know that the District government has several programs to reduce exposure to lead poisoning in drinking water. New programs are providing financial assistance to help eligible residents connect with service line modernization projects.

Studies confirm that lead pipes release lead into drinking water. Exposure to high levels of lead may cause anemia, weakness, and kidney and brain damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control, pregnant women who are exposed to lead also expose their unborn children.

To reduce these health risks, landlords are legally required to inform tenants of the presence of lead in homes. And DC youth are regularly tested for the presence of lead.

Removal of lead service lines that connect city water supply to residential properties is among the most expansive infrastructure programs underway in the District. Homes built prior to the 1980s are at risk for having a lead service line. While DC Water has been replacing the lead pipes with copper in public spaces for several decades, lead pipes remain on the private property side of many homes.

The city’s Lead Pipe Replacement Assistance Program will cover half or the total cost of replacements on residential private property depending on eligibility. Copper replacement of pipes can cost an average of $2,500.

Following are resources to check out:

Contact the District Department of Energy & Environment via 311 or visit doee.dc.gov for an application and information.

Contact DC Water at (202) 354-3600, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or go to dcwater.com/lead-discount for full program details.

OPC’s Water Services Division can be reached at (202) 727-3071 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to connect you to resources.

On September 27, OPC employees gathered for the “Annual Staff Appreciation Day.” The results are in and many reported that this was the best one ever!

MC's Aaron Ward and Dionne Johnson Calhoun kicked off the event with an icebreaker skit to the tune of Tina Turner’s hit song “Proud Mary.” They were backed up by "Ikettes," Cherry Belle, Quaneisha Glover, and Jean Gross-Bethel.

Next, staff honored People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye for more than 30 years of dedicated service to OPC and for achieving a third term as agency director.

In her remarks, the People’s Counsel thanked OPC staff, calling them “miracle workers,” for their commitment to advocate, educate, and protect DC consumers. Each employee received a certificate of appreciation and a pin noting their years of service.

In a keynote address, Author/Motivational Speaker, Cheryl Wood, focused on the theme of the day, “Moving Forward Towards Excellence 2020,” to energize the troops. Among her messages: 1) monitor and manage the energy you bring into the workplace; 2) incorporate positive messaging into the daily routine; 3) take pride in every task; 4) be the team player that everybody wants to work with; 5) and identify and work toward achieving clearly defined goals.

The planning committee’s aim was to make this year’s Staff Appreciation Day thought-provoking, energetic, and fun! Health and wellness also were on the agenda as Salsa with Silvia wrapped up the day by teaching some smooth dance moves.

Many thanks to the planning committee: Cherry Belle, Denise Blackson, Erica Bright, Dionne Calhoun, Quaneisha Glover, Adrienne Mouton-Henderson, Stephen Marencic, Pamela Nelson, and Cecilia Jones-Walker.

In the end, the staff pictured below, felt appreciated and energized to continue serving DC utility consumers to the highest levels.

OPC is advocating for consumers in the following cases:

Formal Case No. 1115: Washington Gas Light Company’s Request for Approval of a Revised Accelerated Pipeline Replacement Plan;

Formal Case No. 1142: Merger Application of AltaGas Ltd. and WGL Holdings, Inc.;

Formal Case No. 1154: Application of WGL for Approval of PROJECTpipes2 Plan

On September 26, OPC submitted a Request to Reply and a Reply to WGL’s Comments Addressing the PROJECTpipes Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA). OPC requested that the Commission grant the Office leave to file reply comments, accept the comments in the dockets, and incorporate OPC’s concerns in its consideration of the CBA. OPC submits that its reply comments will assist the PSC in developing a more complete record upon which to base a decision.

Formal Case No. 1137: WGL's Application for Authority to Increase Existing Rates and Charges for Gas Service and to Revise Terms and Conditions Related to Gas Service

On October 7, OPC filed a Response to WGL’s Class Cost of Service Study. Generally, it appears that Washington Gas Light Company has complied with the Commission's Order No. 18172, which requires the Company to employ a methodology in the Class Cost of Service Study (CCOSS) that produces rate levels and revenues with a realistic relationship to the revenue requirements of the Company and to accurately determine costs and investments. The Office requests that the Commission direct WGL to revise its CCOSS to (1) reflect a 2018 test period, (2) add a column and cost data for "other potential classes or subclasses," and (3) cite all data sources and links embedded in the CCOSS.

OPC will be out at the following events:

Caregiver 5K 2019 Anacostia Park
Location:1900 Anacostia Drive SE
Date:Friday, November 8th
Time:7:30 AM - 2:00 PM

Anacostia Coordinating Council Monthly Meeting
Location:Martha’s Table, 2375 Elvans Road SE
Date:Tuesday, November 26th
Time:11:30 AM - 2:00 PM

Safeway 20th Annual Feast of Sharing Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Location:801 Mt. Vernon Place NW
Date:Wednesday, November 27th
Time:9:00 AM - 2:00 PM