A Note from Your People's Counsel
Rating the Rate Cases
OPC’s eyes have been laser-focused on Pepco’s application to increase electric rates by $135.9 million since Pepco filed its initial application in May 2019. And as with every rate case that will affect your utility bills, we’ve encouraged you to be a part of the process. According to the Public Service Commission, 106 people have signed up to testify at its virtual community hearing on the case taking place at 2 pm today (Tuesday, September 29). It’s a good thing that so many are letting their voice be heard and we thank you for stepping up to comment.
OPC believes ratepayers will suffer if Pepco’s rate plan is approved, especially since many are struggling economically during the pandemic. Unfortunately, the Commission rejected OPC’s request to dismiss Pepco's application for this huge rate increase this past Friday. Nonetheless, OPC remains committed to defending consumers’ rights to reasonable rates as the case moves forward, particularly important now during these difficult times of COVID-19. See our latest press release.
Dozens of consumers got a lesson on "#Here2HelpDC" during a live webinar hosted by the four District agencies who are working together to make residents and businesses aware of energy and money-saving initiatives that will help soften the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Catherine Plume, a writer and contributor to Capital Community News, and Chair of the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club, served as moderator of the virtual meet-up on September 9. Giving the public key information on their agency services were Jean Gross-Bethel of OPC; Kenley Farmer of the Department of Energy and Environment; Benjamin Burdick of the DC Sustainable Energy Utility; and Maurice Smith of the Public Service Commission.
The speakers covered topics such as consumer protections, payment assistance programs and energy-saving initiatives available to electric, natural gas, water and local phone consumers. You can view the entire webinar @
Learn about the various assistance programs by following #Here2HelpDC on social media. Also, check out this article about the joint agency campaign.
Affordable Housing + SaveSolar = Community Benefits
While many are staying home more, using more electricity and facing potentially higher utility bills, this is a good time to look into programs that may help you save energy and money, including going solar.
Recently you may have heard the news about how some Ward 7 residents stand to save up to about $500 a year on their electric bills as a result of a project of SaveSolar under the District’s Solar for All program. In a joint effort with New Columbia Solar and Standard Companies, SaveSolar just completed the city’s largest rooftop community solar system, spanning 45 buildings of the Fort Chaplin Park Apartments, an affordable housing dwelling in Northeast.
This solar installation will provide about 1.5 million kWh of energy for more than 500 households across the District, saving residents more than $2 million in utility costs over the life of the system.
But SaveSolar isn’t only helping the District reach its target of reducing utility bills for 100,000 low-income residents through community solar, it’s helping building owners secure a new source of revenue during these economically challenging times. As a community solar system operates and sends power to residents, the property owner is paid rent for use of their rooftop. In this way, they are boosting their property’s net operating income and creating an opportunity for their residents to benefit from reduced utility bills.
“Rooftops have so much untapped potential – for the community, for building owners, and for our climate – so it’s absolutely vital that we utilize this opportunity now,” says Karl Unterlechner, CEO of SaveSolar.
To learn more, visit https://www.savesolar.us/; call (202) 846-6928; or follow: https://www.facebook.com/savesolarcorporation; Twitter:@SavesolarCorp; Instagram: @SavesolarCorp.
This article was contributed by Bennett Hanson, Public Relations Manager at SaveSolar.
When it rained, it poured
The recent historic rainfall showed no mercy on our city--flooding homes, streets, sidewalks, and Metro stations.
Many residents are now burdened with water damage and the unpleasant invasion of raw sewage. Fortunately, help is on the way to provide resources to residents for clean-up and remediation.
DC Water has announced financial assistance to help some residents clean up and mitigate water damage resulting from the September 10 rainfall. The initiatives providing a total $11,000 per eligible household target customers in parts of Northeast most affected. The program does not apply to every home in the District.
Homeowners may call DC Water at (202) 354-3600 or visit the following links for information on the September 10 fallout assistance.
DC Water Storm-Related Assistance Programs: dcwater.com/September10Flooding
DC Water September 10 FAQ: https://www.dcwater.com/faq-page/136
When it rained, it poured
Month, OPC recognizes the commitment of Consumer Services Specialist Silvia Garrick, who serves as our Hispanic Coordinator. OPC takes pride in its outreach to limited and non-English-speaking residents and the DC Office of Human Rights has repeatedly recognized OPC ‘s support of utility consumers who speak different languages.
Silvia plays a major role in ensuring people of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds benefit from OPC’s services. The Afro-Latina has worked diligently to expand and improve OPC’s customer services to the District’s multicultural population. The longtime OPC staffer is OPC’s link to the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs (MOLA), the Office of Disability Rights and other DC government agencies. Recently, MOLA honored Silvia for her government service on its social media pages.
A native of Central America, Silvia has strived to advance her educational credentials over the years. She first obtained an associate’s degree from the Panama Canal College Department of Defense Dependents School, then a bachelor’s degree from National Louis University, and a master’s degree from the University of Maryland. Silvia is a recipient of the “Gracias Award for Excellence in Public Service,” in recognition of her persistent efforts to breach language barriers, as well as her participation as a panelist for the Hispanic Issues Forum.
As a "citizen of the world," Silvia enjoys traveling to different countries and reading books in her native language.
OPC is advocating for consumers in the following cases:
Formal Case No. 1162 – Washington Gas Light Application for Authority to Increase Existing Rates
On August 24, OPC filed corrections to the Direct Testimony that was filed on August 17.
On September 14, OPC filed Rebuttal Testimony in response to Direct Testimony filed by the Apartment & Office Building Association regarding its support of the WGL's proposed capital structure and cost of debt calculations.
Formal Case No. 1142 - The Merger Application of AltaGas Ltd. and WGL Holdings, Inc.
On September 10, OPC filed a Motion for Enlargement of Time to file Comments.
Formal Case No. 1163 – The Investigation into the Regulatory Framework of Microgrids in the District of Columbia
The Commission is soliciting public comments in this docket regarding its role in the regulatory framework of microgrids to provide a higher level of regulatory certainty and transparency into the decision-making process.
On August 31, OPC filed initial comments recommending the Commission amend certain regulations to enable an initial expansion of microgrids and adopt factors and timeframes that it will consider in reviewing, approving, and classifying microgrid projects.
On September 15, OPC filed limited responses to certain recommendations in other parties’ initial comments on: (A) light touch regulation; (B) microgrid service tariffs; and (C) a literature review of other states’ microgrid regulations, proceedings, and support programs.
GD-2019-04-M - The Implementation of the 2019 Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act Compliance Requirements
On September 4, OPC filed comments commending the Commission for recognizing that successful compliance and enforcement is a collaborative process between public and private stakeholders, and asking that it be flexible as to these stated deadlines, and remain open to communication from the committees and stakeholders as to ongoing progress, and the possible need for more time.
RM3-2018-01-M, The Investigation into PSC Rules Governing Energy Meter Locations
On September 14, OPC filed Comments Regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Containing Proposed Amendments to the Consumer Bill of Rights (CBOR).
The PSC proposed amendments to the CBOR that eliminate the requirement for the electric utility to provide customers 15 days’ notice prior to relocating or replacing electric meters located on the customer’s premises or property. OPC filed comments urging the Commission to retain the notice requirement.
During the COVID-19 crisis, OPC welcomes the opportunity to speak at your Advisory Neighborhood Commission, civic association or community group meeting. We can give updates on utility issues and tell how we are continuing to serve during the pandemic via telework. Call (202) 727-3071 if your group would like our staff to "zoom in."
Harold Fisher of WHUR FM interviews People's Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye and Public Service Commission Chairman Willie Phillips about the #Here2HelpDC consumer education initiative. See the interview @ https://bit.ly/3hWkrtF.
Students and a parent receive bookbags OPC donated to Whittier Education Campus in Ward 4. Principal Tiffany Johnson: "We are thrilled to have your support. Through your supply donation, we have been able to provide our students with the tools they need to be successful during distance learning. Students and families were excited to receive the bookbags. You truly made the difference for us, and we are extremely grateful!"