The OPC CONNECTION – June 2016

June, 2016

A Note from Your People’s Counsel

Image: Sandra Mattavous-Frye People's Counsel

“Rain, Rain, Go Away.” That’s what many people are saying after weeks of continuous rain over the Washington region. Meteorologists report that May had a record number of rainy days-19 as of May 23-along with the coolest high temperatures since 1882. At a time when there is growing interest in solar energy, you might be wondering: do solar panels work on rainy or cloudy days? Yes…just not quite as well. Solar panels generate the most electricity on clear days with abundant sunshine. What’s more important, though, is not what you lose in gloomy weather, but how much sunshine you get over an entire year.

What’s important to OPC is that District decision-makers make solar access a reality for all. Unfortunately, the full cost-saving benefits of solar are more often not accessible to communities with limited-and-low-income residents, primarily due to the lack of financial resources. OPC recently testified at a DC Council hearing in support of the Solar Energy Amendment Act, a bill that would make more funds available to lower-income DC households to make solar and energy efficiency improvements. In testimony before the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, OPC made it clear that it “supports all efforts to advance the conversation around ways that the District can accelerate the deployment of solar energy installations for low-income and limited-income residents; implementing equitable and reasonable costs for ratepayers; and the importance of establishing a formal mechanism for assessing the District’s vulnerability to climate change and level of preparedness for adverse weather events.” We also challenged the need for any additional increases to the Sustainable Energy Utility funding surcharge or “SETF.” Read the full testimony here.

Plus, stay tuned for steps OPC is taking to raise awareness about going solar, including posting a new website section and holding stakeholder meetings. A critical and unanswered question is how do we quantify the value of solar? OPC’s Value of Solar Study scheduled for release in November 2016 will address the underlying questions.

Let’s make low-income solar access a statutory reality instead of a just a convenient talking point. So to quote a famous line from that old 5th Dimension song: “Let the Sunshine In!”