A Note from Your People’s Counsel

“OPC is Your Utility Lawyer” is a phrase that describes the important role the Office of the People’s Counsel performs. OPC’s Litigation Services Division puts the words into practice daily primarily in advocating for consumers before the DC Public Service Commission, but also on occasion in court. For example, on May 2nd, OPC presented arguments at the DC Court of Appeals to challenge the Commission’s decision approving the Pepco-Exelon merger.

It’s been three years since the marathon merger began and one year since PSC approval. Then why is the matter now in court and still up for debate? It’s because, by law, OPC is obligated to do all in its power to ensure that District ratepayers are given every opportunity to be heard before the Commission renders a decision. We believe consumers were denied that opportunity.

The DC Court of Appeals is expected to rule on the OPC challenge over the summer.

As for the proposed merger of Washington Gas Light and AltaGas, the Commission will hold a meeting on May 18 to set a schedule and discuss other issues related to this application. The meeting will be open to the public.

Finally, in case you missed it, OPC released two studies on the Value of Solar for the District of Columbia on April 12th. Click here to see the studies and video of a press conference where OPC unveiled cutting-edge information on the growth of solar energy in the city.

Rev. Dr. Earl D. Trent, Jr. of Florida Avenue Baptist discusses the church’s solar energy project at OPC’s Value of Solar Study Press Conference. People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye led the event with study authors, Dr. Thomas Vitolo of Synapse Energy Economics; and Dr. Jerome S. Paige of Jerome S. Paige & Associates.

Formal Case No. 1139 (Pepco’s 2016/2017 Rate Case)

On April 12 and April 26, 2017, the Office filed its Initial and Reply Post-Hearing Briefs, respectively. In both post-hearing briefs, OPC argued against Pepco’s proposed rate increase.

Formal Case PEPCR2017-1-E (Pepco’s First Quarter Call Center Customer Care Report)

OPC submitted Comments to Pepco’s Annual Consolidated Report – Part 1 – Comprehensive Plan (“2017 ACR”) on April 3 wherein the Office identified its issues and concerns with Pepco’s 2017 ACR.

Formal Case RM27-2017-01 (In the Matter of the Commission’s Investigation into the Rules Governing Local Exchange Carriers Quality of Service Standards for the District)

On April 5, 2017, the Office filed Reply Comments in support of the Commission’s notice of proposed rulemaking issued in this proceeding and opposing Verizon’s Initial Comments.

Formal Case No. 1130 (In the Matter of the Investigation into Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability)

The Office filed Comments in this proceeding on April 10, 2017 addressing the PSC MEDSIS Staff Report.

Formal Case No. 1115, 1027, GT96-3 & GT06-1 (In the Matter of Application of Washington Gas Light Company for Approval of a Revised Accelerated Pipeline Replacement Program)

On April 18, 2017, OPC filed Comments regarding Washington Gas Light Company’s Technical Conference Report wherein the Office was highly critical of WGL’s constant cost overruns and poor cost-estimation process.

In our continuing profiles of OPC employees who work daily to serve District utility consumers, we introduce Denise Blackson, Consumer Outreach Specialist.

Wearing a badge saying “Service Expert” is something Denise Blackson wore proudly after a previous employer rewarded her with the title for exceptional customer service. Denise says she has carried that badge of honor over to OPC’s Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Section. Her primary role is presenting workshops on how to save energy and money on utility bills to numerous community groups, including children at the Boys & Girls Clubs at THEARC in Ward 8. Using coloring books and other fun activities, Denise teaches simple and practical tips, with the hope that the youth will help the adults in their households keep utility costs down.

A native Washingtonian, Denise came to OPC almost two years ago through the District’s Learn, Earn, Advance, Prosper (L.E.A.P.) apprenticeship program. Denise says she enjoys interacting with people of all ages, but particularly senior residents who are always amusing and appreciative of the time she spends with them.

Outside of work, Denise enjoys watching new and old crime shows like “Law & Order: SVU,” “Criminals Minds,” “Perry Mason,” and “Magnum, P.I.” In addition, Denise is a “service expert” in event planning, cooking and decorating. The Ward 6 resident looks forward to hosting soul food dinners for as many as 75 family members once a month.

She’s especially excited about two celebrations coming up: a “Diamonds and Denim” party she is planning for her daughter who is graduating from high school. Denise’s family is celebrating her graduation from the University of the District of Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Congratulations, Denise!

The Office recently participated in the DC government’s “On the Move: Step Challenge.” OPC’s Wellness Committee rallied employees to enroll. The eight-week challenge allowed for District government employees to compete individually or within groups as they both tracked and reported their walking steps on a daily basis. With the help of tracking devices like Fitbit and Apple watches, employees were able to sync their devices to the Challenge’s sponsored Daily Endorphin website which kept track of the team or individual’s total step count. Collectively, OPC had four teams participate in this year’s challenge.

At the conclusion of the step challenge, OPC’s Team A was the highest performing group within the agency and Stephen Marencic finished with an impressive 1,741,517 logged steps. If Stephen had competed as an individual, he would have placed third overall among all DC government participants. For many employees at OPC, the challenge got their competitive juices flowing, but more importantly brought attention to the importance of maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. Some have even continued to monitor their steps. While the challenge has come and gone, what has remained is the Office continually working together to encourage and uplift each other towards one another’s own personal health journey and goals…pushing each other one step at a time!

OPC Team A from left: Yohannes Mariam, Linda Jefferson, Doxie McCoy, Stephen Marencic, and Dwayne Houston

The Georgia Avenue Family Support Collaborative (GAFSC) is dedicated to developing a neighborhood-based system that builds on strengths, nurtures families and keeps children safe from abuse and neglect.

GAFSC was established in 1998 when a partnership consisting of residents and neighborhood-based organizations received a planning grant from the DC Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA).

Utilizing a “strengths-based approach” to finding solutions to family problems and maximizing on these strengths allows GAFSC to assist families in finding solutions within themselves. Their mission is to support children, youth and families to become healthy, empowered and connected in a multi-cultural community.

Recently, Intake Specialist Myrna Salvador-Navarro praised OPC’s support of the Collaborative before the DC Council.

Learn more by clicking here.

The OPC Connection has been highlighting our collection of historic posters, artwork and memorabilia. This month, we showcase one of the amazing artworks on display in our office on loan from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Enjoy!