December 1999 was a pivotal year in the history of electric restructuring in the District. In Formal Case No. 945, the Commission approved a non-unanimous settlement agreement that allowed the Potomac Electric Power Company (“Pepco”) to sell (divest) its power plants and other electricity-generating assets. OPC did not sign the settlement agreement because it did not believe that electric retail competition would benefit residential and small business consumers. Additionally, in 2001, the D.C. Council passed legislation approving retail electric competition which allows more than one company to offer electric service in the District. The main impact on residential consumers of divestiture is that after rate caps expired, residential consumers have experienced a huge increase in the cost of generation and a commensurate increase in their total electric bills.
To implement retail competition in the District, the Commission established a Working Group consisting of various entities, including the Office of the People’s Counsel, and directed the Working Group to recommend a plan of action to address the various issues related to the implementation of retail competition in the District. To that end, the Commission adopted procedures and standards regarding consumer protection and supplier licensing and operations standards, approved a post-divestiture unbundled rate structure for Pepco, established the Renewable Demonstration Grant Program, approved the listing and publishing of price-to-compare data to allow residential consumers to evaluate electricity supplier rates and charges, adopted a market monitoring program, adopted an interim code of conduct while it considers a District-specific code of conduct for energy suppliers, approved energy efficiency, universal service and renewable programs funded by the Reliable Energy Trust Fund, approved net energy metering rules, approved a two-year consumer education campaign to provide electricity consumers with clear, concise, and unbiased information regarding consumer choice, approved rules to implement the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act.