Author: DCOPC Staff    Published: 7/31/2023       DCOPC

July 2023

A Note from Your

People’s Counsel

Sandra Mattavous-Frye

It’s (Going to Be) Electric!

In the clean energy economy of the future most cars, trucks and buses will need to be powered by batteries that get recharged by electric vehicle (EV) chargers. OPC has been advocating before the Public Service Commission and DC Council to ensure that the charging network is developed equitably, reliably, affordably, and considers the needs of the many DC residents that do not own a vehicle of any kind. In recent testimony before the DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment, OPC provided input on a bill to expand the EV charging network in the District.

The Comprehensive Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Access, Readiness, and Sustainability Amendment Act of 2023 (B25-0106) aims to promote EV adoption by requiring the District Department of Transportation to install 35 new EV charging stations, establish an Electric Vehicle Charging Station Grant Program, and develop an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment and Management Plan to deploy 7,500 chargers in the District by 2027.

Charles Allen, Ward 6 Councilmember and Committee Chairman, introduced the bill. OPC commends his efforts to utilize federal funds in expanding the District’s EV charging network and supports the move to maximize these funds to accelerate the clean energy transition. To protect electric ratepayers, OPC strongly recommends specifying federal funding to pay for these programs. Additionally, considering that EV ownership is higher among affluent residents, OPC suggests alternatives to free EV charging stations to avoid having lower-income residents subsidize the charging. To encourage commercial investment in EV charging infrastructure, OPC recommends allowing commercial providers to participate in charger ownership and maintenance, spreading the risk of these investments and ensuring ongoing upkeep without passing costs on to ratepayers.

While 7,500 chargers may not be the right goal, OPC supports a network that is right-sized to anticipate and serve the growing demand for these chargers.

OPC’s Advocacy in Long-standing Benning Road Plant Battle Ends in

$2M Win for Pepco Consumers

As a direct result of relentless advocacy by the Office of the People’s Counsel, related to the old Pepco Benning Road Power Plant, Pepco customers will receive a refund of nearly $2 million.

In 1999, Pepco sought Public Service Commission (PSC) approval to sell its electricity generating stations at the Benning Road Power Plant in Northeast. Eventually, a settlement agreement granted Pepco the right to sell the plant. However, an essential provision of the agreement explicitly stated that Pepco was prohibited from recovering plant-related costs from its ratepayers.

Eleven years later, the US Environmental Protection Agency discovered contaminants near the facility and traced them back to Pepco’s cooling towers. Consequently, the District Department of Energy and Environment sued Pepco to hold the utility responsible for the cleanup of the contaminated site. To address the contamination issue, a settlement agreement was negotiated requiring Pepco to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study to determine the most suitable cleanup plan.

In a 2019 rate increase case (Formal Case No. 1156), Pepco filed a request to recover the cost of the investigation and study from ratepayers. OPC opposed this request, arguing that the 1999 agreement barred Pepco from holding consumers responsible for any costs related to the plant’s cleanup.

Despite OPC’s compelling arguments, the Commission ruled in Pepco’s favor. OPC subsequently requested the Commission reconsider its decision, but the Commission denied reconsideration. OPC then appealed the case to the DC Court of Appeals. In November 2022, the court sided with OPC and sent the case back to the PSC for further review.

On Thursday, July 27, OPC got a key victory for Pepco consumers when the Commission rescinded its decision and stated that Pepco was not entitled to recover from ratepayers any costs related to the cleanup of the Benning Road facility based on the 1999 settlement agreement.

This outcome reinforces the significance of adhering to settlement agreements, holding utilities accountable for their obligations, and the crucial role OPC always stands ready to play to protect DC consumers in the face of complex legal battles.

Continuing with our series, Working Groups at the Public Service Commission, this month we feature the Energy Efficient and Demand Response (EEDR) Metrics Working Group. This Working Group started in November 2019 with recommendations presented in January 30, 2020. One of the recommendations was for an EEDR Potential Study to guide future EEDR programs, designs, implementation, and energy saving goals.

The PSC directed Pepco and Washington Gas to be a part of this study. In addition, the Commission wanted to make sure utility programs do not impact businesses and nonprofits providing energy efficiency and demand response programs. Pepco filed its Potential Study in May and now is seeking comments on that study.


OPC Connecting at the PSC

OPC In Your Neighborhood!

OPC looks forward to seeing you in-person. We welcome the opportunity to speak at your Advisory Neighborhood Commission, civic association or community group meeting onsite or virtually. We can give updates on utility issues, trends, and outline how we serve. Call (202) 727-3071 if your group would like our staff to make a presentation onsite or “Zoom in.” Contact the organizations directly if you would like links to attend any of the meetings we’ll be visiting virtually.

 Public Service Commission Energy Pop-Up

Wednesday, August 16

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Lamond-Riggs/ Lillian J. Huff Library

5401 South Dakota Ave NE