The OPC Connection - November 2018

 

A Note from ​​Your People's Counsel

Sandra Mattavous-Frye

Reading is Fundamental

OPC uses numerous tools to let consumers know how we carry out our mission to advocate, educate and protect…including publications. You can find a variety of informative publications, including annual reports, brochures, and of course, the OPC Connection, at opc-dc.gov. Copies are always available at the countless community events we attend. You also can request copies by contacting our Consumer Services Division

We are proud that our publications have brought OPC recognition and awards. On October 31, 2018, I received the “Government Champion Award” from the Maryland-DC-Delaware-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (photo with MDV-SEIA Board President Rick Peters). MDV-SEIA represents more than 180 organizations in the region; and describes the Government Champion as, “the public official who best recognizes the economic and social value of solar power.”

In honoring OPC, MDV-SEIA applauded our “Value of Solar Study,” and “A DC Consumer’s Guide to Going Solar,” and said, “The DC Office of the People’s Counsel has been a leading voice among consumer advocates for solar consumer education.”

We also were pleased that the 2016 OPC Annual Report: “Community Engagement-A Pipeline to Power” was honored with a “2018 MarCom Platinum Award” by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The Association said: “The MarCom Awards honor excellence in marketing and communication while recognizing the creativity.” Each year about 6,000 entries are submitted from dozens of countries. OPC staff worked with LINK Strategic Partners to put the award-winning publication together. We thank LINK for being an OPC partner.

ICYMI, check out the 2017 OPC Annual Report: “Protecting Consumers, Easing the Energy Burden, and Promoting a Safe and Sustainable Environment,” that came out in the fall.

Finally, I am excited about our upcoming book: “The Power of Advocacy,” highlights of OPC’s history 1975 - 2018. We will keep you posted on its release.

We appreciate you taking the time to read the OPC Connection and other publications in the midst of the busy holiday season…and wish you all the best as you go about your shopping, celebrating and reflecting on the new year ahead!

OPC hosted more than 40 representatives from DC nonprofit and government service agencies at its Social Services Discussion Forum on November 16, 2018.

OP holds the periodic networking sessions for attendees and OPC Consumer Services Division staff to exchange information and determine how they can collaborate to support District residents. OPC staff discussed the types of utility assistance the Office provides, information on third-party energy suppliers, OPC’s solar initiatives, and our advocacy at the Public Service Commission.

Each participant also was given an opportunity to share experiences and the challenges they face in serving their constituents, with the goal of fostering a more comprehensive social service network.

In attendance were representatives from the Greater Washington Urban League, DC Council, various community collaboratives across all eight wards, the Department of Energy & Environment, the Public Service Commission, and Pepco.

OPC hopes to continue the conversation throughout the year and will use the information obtained from the open discussion to tailor outreach and education services to better serve DC utility ratepayers. See photos from the forum below.

As discussed in September’s OPC Connection, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is requiring PJM the grid operator in the Mid-Atlantic – to restructure its capacity market design for future energy resources. PJM, which originally stood for Pennsylvania/Jersey/Maryland, uses the capacity market to ensure future reliability by managing an auction where power plant operators competitively bid to commit to provide power three years in advance.

OPC, partnering with a broad group of stakeholders, developed a proposal that will protect ratepayers while allowing the District to pursue its clean energy goals. This stands in sharp contrast to the proposal offered by PJM.

Under PJM’s proposal, energy generated from many renewable resources would not be recognized in its auction and ratepayers would face artificially inflated prices to the tune of billions of dollars a year.

Additionally, PJM proposes paying power plants even if they fail to “clear its auction” (their bids are not chosen) and are no longer able to competitively sell power. These power plants would be paid even though they commit to provide no resources and the market is indicating they should shut down.

It is the ratepayers in the District and other PJM states that would pay for what some have described as an electric “bridge to nowhere.” In comments filed at FERC, OPC joined consumer and environmental advocates in opposing PJM’s boondoggle, and urged the FERC to adopt a capacity market design along the lines that OPC proposed. OPC also encourages DC consumers to write and express their opposition to this “generator giveaway.”

Letters can be sent to:
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20426
Please reference Docket No. EL18-178-000

OPC periodically heads to DC Council chambers to give input on how proposed legislation might impact utility consumers. On October 29th, People's Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye discussed the “Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018,” (Bill 22-904), which received unanimous Council approval in a preliminary vote this week. On November 2nd, the People's Counsel testified on the “Senior Strategic Plan Amendment Act of 2018," (Bill 22-0686), which is under committee review. Check out all of OPC's testimony before the Council at opc-dc.gov. You also can read bill language and status on the Council's website.

OPC reminds consumers that Pepco and Washington Gas are prohibited from disconnecting your heating service:

  • On any day when the National Weather Service forecast for the following 24 hours indicates that the temperature will be 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below in the District of Columbia; or
  • On any day preceding a holiday or a weekend when the National Weather Service forecast indicates that the temperature will be 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below during the holiday or weekend.

Contact OPC if threatened with disconnection or experiencing any kind of utility issue at (202) 727-3071.

Highlighting Feedback from Consumers

Steve and Cindy Harris contacted OPC last month after a positive outcome to their complaints involving Verizon & Washington Gas.

The Harris’ wrote:

I just wanted to thank you for the outstanding work done by the People’s Counsel on our behalf, in particular, Barbara Burton [Attorney] and Laurence Jones [Senior Policy Analyst]. They could not have been more attentive and helpful in addressing our issues in a most timely fashion w ith the utmost courtesy, concern and follow-up. I have never before encountered an agency run w ith such professionalism and so efficiently and effectively.

My w ife and I had significant problems dealing separately, first w ith Verizon in terms of installing a copper w ire to our home, and second, w ith respect to our shared driveway. Without their help, I doubt either Verizon or Washington Gas would have addressed the problems they created.

This thank you is written totally voluntarily. Neither Ms. Burton nor Mr. Jones asked me to write. Quite to the contrary, I had to significantly prod for the proper person to express my appreciation.

I wanted to congratulate you and them for service extraordinarily well rendered. Their performance was truly impressive

Thank you,

Steve and Cindy Harris

We thank consumers like the Harris’ for letting us show how “OPC Can Help!

The Solar Connection is a feature designed to "shine the light" on developments in solar power and educate consumers about the energy option. This month's guest writer is Nicole Sitaraman, Senior Manager of Public Policy with Sunrun, Inc.

Since joining the District of Columbia’s clean energy policy space two years ago, Sunrun, Inc. has been dedicated to collaborating with DC stakeholders to support policies that help more consumers go solar. Sunrun is the largest residential rooftop solar, battery storage, and energy services company in the country, with more than 200,000 customers in 23 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

With Sunrun’s residential solar plus storage services, homeowners are making their homes more energy resilient and saving money, while helping to create jobs and reduce carbon emissions harmful to the environment. Sunrun believes that the energy grid’s greatest asset is consumers. Consumers will be critical to building a more sustainable, affordable and resilient energy grid, collectively installing solar and battery storage one house at a time, one building at a time and one family at a time.

Locally-generated renewable energy – bringing energy solutions right where people live and work – will lead to greater energy democracy and make the nation’s capital a national clean energy leader.

Sunrun is firmly committed to empowering low-income consumers with the benefits of solar. Making solar accessible to all communities is a fundamental principle upon which this company was established. Sunrun has a longstanding partnership with Grid Alternatives in several locations in the United States and will work with Grid Alternatives Mid-Atlantic to provide solar to low-income residents of the District. Learn more about Sunrun here.

OPC is advocating for consumers in the following cases:

Formal Case No. 1130: Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability (MEDSIS)

On October 30, 2018, OPC filed a Motion for the Enlargement of Time to Submit Initial and Reply Comments with the PSC on its initiative to address key issues related to modernizing the District’s grid.

Formal Case No. 1153: Pepco’s Petition for an Investigation to Determine the Jurisdiction of the PSC to Regulate the Electric Distribution System at the Parks at Walter Reed

On October 30th, OPC filed a Motion Requesting Clarification of Order No. 19721

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

On November 2nd, OPC filed a Joint Motion Requesting Clarification of Merger Commitment No. 54 and to Direct Washington Gas to Amend the Consultants Scope of Work accordingly.

Formal Case No. 1050 & RM402017-01: The Investigation of the Implementation of Interconnection Standards in the District of Columbia & In the Matter of 15 DCMR Chapter 40 - D.C. Small Generator Interconnection Rules

On November 5th, OPC filed Reply Comments to Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Consumer Complaint 2017-9075225: Related to Pepco Service

On November 6th, OPC Filed a Motion to Withdraw the Consumer Complaint before PSC in light of a settlement between the parties.

Formal Case No. 1017: The Development and Designation of Standard Offer Service in the District of Columbia

On November 9, 2018, OPC Filed Initial Comments in pursuant to Order No. 19431 related to Pepco service.

OPC will be out at the following events:

ANC 2D Meeting
Location:1501 14th Street NW
Date:Wednesday, December 5th
Time:7:00 PM

Ward 8 Pastors and Faith Leaders Network Breakfast
Location:Matthews Memorial Baptist Church 2616 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE
Date:Saturday, December 8th
Time:9:00 AM -11:00 AM

DCEITC Forum: The Role the Earned Income Tax Credit in Providing a Pathway to the Middle Class in Washington, DC
Location:True Reformer Building/Public Welfare Foundation 1200 U Street NW
Date:Wednesday, December 12th
Time:10:00 AM -1:00 PM

Howard University College of Dentistry Senior Holiday Celebration
Location:600 W Street NW
Date:Friday, December 14th
Time:11:00 AM - 3:00 PM