Because of its location, nestled between two rivers and close to the Chesapeake Bay, the District of Columbia is particularly at risk from rising sea levels (demonstrated by the now, regular flooding of parts of the Tidal Basin). To combat these rising sea levels and other worrisome affects of climate change, the District has implemented strong goals that include significant increases in renewable and clean energy. Solar power will play a big roll in meeting the District’s climate goals, but D.C. consumers have recently been experiencing roadblocks when trying to interconnect their small scale, residential solar to the grid.
OPC has several consumer cases before the Public Service Commission regarding this problematic blocking of DC customers from interconnection. Small scale solar is relatively free and the process is meant to be “fast-tracked” in the District to help meet DC climate goals. But Pepco has been charging customers to interconnect (up to $20k in one case) and not providing customers with any reason as to why they are being charged.
As more and more customers switch to solar, the shared lines that carry the generated energy become bogged down and extra equipment is needed. Some customers are being left “holding the bag”, so to speak and getting charged for this equipment, while others had previously interconnected for free. Obviously, this is having a “chilling” effect on D.C. residents switching to solar. The Commission is concerned with the impact this will have on the District’s climate goals and is currently considering new rules to try to address the interconnection issues. OPC has taken an active role in making sure these rules will be effective in addressing the problems and will serve the needs of District consumers, while furthering the intent of the fast-track solar system – to protect our city from climate change.