Clean Energy-Related Formal Case Summaries

Working to meet aggressive climate goals
 
The Clean Energy Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 included several goals and mandates that the DCPSC must fulfill. Listed below are summaries of Formal Cases before the Commission that are integral in addressing these goals and mandates, as well helping to achieve the District’s climate goals.
 
Formal Case No. 1017, RM41 — The Procurement of Renewable Energy through a long-term PPA for a Percentage of Standard Offer Service Load
Formal Case No. 1017
RM41

The DCPSC initiated a pilot project to procure renewable energy through a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) for electricity for a target quantity of 5% of Standard Offer Service (SOS) load for delivery by 2024. Adopting a long-term, 15–20-year PPA will help construct a new, large renewable generation facility (wind or solar) in the PJM Interconnection region that advances the District towards its clean energy goals. Pepco received proposals in 2021 and continues to engage potential counterparties. Upon completion of its negotiations, Pepco is expected to submit an executed agreement to the Commission for action. The Commission will continue monitoring Pepco’s efforts on this matter.
 
Formal Case No. 1115, 1154 — Accelerated Pipeline Replacement (PROJECTpipes)
Formal Case No. 1115
Formal Case No. 1154

The DCPSC approved the first phase of a 40-year accelerated pipeline replacement program from Washington Gas (WGL) in August 2014 to upgrade WGL’s aging pipeline infrastructure in the District and enhance overall system resiliency, reliability, and safety for nearly 165,000 gas customers. This program will help the District meet its climate goals by reducing potential leaks and methane gas emissions on the distribution system. The Commission approved a 3-year, Phase 2 plan in December 2020 that allows WGL to advance six distribution replacement programs. Individuals may use WGL’s online activity map for PROJECTpipes work schedule info by ward and address.
 
Formal Case No. 1130 — Investigation into Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability
Formal Case No. 1130

The DCPSC opened a proceeding on June 12, 2015, to identify technologies and policies to modernize and improve the sustainability of the District’s energy delivery system. Under this proceeding, the Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability (MEDSIS) working groups were established in August 2018 and were comprised of industry stakeholders to form recommendations. The working group culminated in a final report in May 2019 with 32 recommendations and 10 learnings aimed to support the District’s grid modernization efforts. The Commission adopted, with modifications, several recommendations of the working group including, but not limited to:
  1. A Distribution System Planning (“DSP”) and Non-Wires Alternative (“NWA”) Process
  2. The creation of a secure web portal for data-sharing by Pepco and WGL
  3. The establishment of a rate design working group to propose best practices and develop residential dynamic pricing programs, and for Pepco to develop and file a pilot residential time- of- use rate proposal
  4. A new microgrids proceeding
  5. A new energy storage proceeding
  6. The establishment of a Pilot Projects Governance Board (PPGB) to review innovative ideas and recommend pilots with a clean grid in mind.  Order No. 20388 opened a separate docket, GD-2020-02-M exclusively for matters relating to the Pilot Projects Governance Board.
The DCPSC approved Pepco’s DSP and NWA Process, which includes Pepco’s roll-out of the District’s first Non-Wires Alternative RFP process to defer the need for a fifth transformer and instead develop and build behind-the-meter or in-front-of-the-meter projects comprising up to 9MW of electric power capacity. In response to a recommendation of the PPGB, the DCPSC moved forward with a value of distributed energy resources (DER) study to be executed by Synapse Energy Economics to determine the most efficient and effective ways of accounting for DER in decision making. The PPGB also hosted a call for papers on topics ranging from battery storage and microgrids to sewer heat and smart inverters which are currently being used to inform Pilot Project RFPs. The PPGB has also proposed four scopes of work for pilot programs. 
 
Formal Case No. 1142 — WGL/Alta Gas Merger Commitment No. 3: Energy Efficiency program for low- and limited-income residents of multifamily housing
Formal Case No. 1142

WGL informed the Commission in February 2019 that the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation was selected to run its energy efficiency program in compliance with the merger commitment. The Commission approved the Energy Efficiency Program Plan for Low and Limited-Income District of Columbia Residents in Affordable Multifamily Housing proposed by WGL in November 2019. WGL was directed to file quarterly reports detailing the implementation of the Term No. 3 Plan. All projects in this program were completed and verified by February 2021 and in its final report WGL cited a total of 26 low-income multifamily properties served. Cumulatively, this program is estimated to save 115,698 Therms of natural gas annually or nearly 1.8 million Therms over the lifetime of the equipment.
 
Formal Case No. 1148 — Pepco/Exelon Merger Commitment: Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation Program
Formal Case No. 1148

As part of the Commission’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help fight climate change in the District, the Commission  advanced a Whole Building Deep Energy Retrofit Program which is an energy efficiency and energy conservation program that assists affordable multifamily building owners with energy efficiency retrofit financing, and helps them identify other energy programs that could minimize their buildings’ energy usage. More than $11 million from the Pepco/Exelon Merger has been allocated to fund this program which would allow building owners to replace lights with more efficient LEDs, upgrade to efficient HVAC systems, and, in some cases, even install rooftop solar panels.  
 
The Clean Energy DC Act 2018 established new minimum Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) for owners of private buildings in the District. By ensuring that affordable multifamily building owners have access to resources to comply with the BEPS, the Deep Energy Retrofit program will help the District achieve its climate policy commitments. The Deep Energy Retrofit program also supports the Clean Energy DC plan goal to make equity and affordability central considerations when implementing climate policies. Clean and efficient household systems are not only good for the planet, but also for the families living in these buildings who otherwise face lower air quality at home and higher utility expenses. 

The program design for this project was approved and the revised design was submitted to the Commission in June 2021.
 
Formal Case No. 1156 — Electric Utility Multiyear Rate Plan
Formal Case No. 1156

Pepco filed a Multi-Year Rate Plan (MRP) Application in May 2019 for approval to increase rates for its electric distribution service in the District. Traditional cost of service rate cases generally review costs and investments using a historical approach or partially forecasted test year (which provides for six months historical data and six months of forecasted data). Under the traditional ratemaking paradigm, Pepco has been filing rate cases approximately every two years to recover the costs of their investments in the electric distribution system. The expenses they incurred in litigating each rate case cost ratepayers an average of $3 million. Beginning with Pepco’s 2016 rate case, the Commission expressed its intention to explore whether an alternative to the traditional “cost of service” ratemaking should be implemented in the District to encourage service improvements, management innovation, operational efficiencies, and less frequent rate increase requests. Given the expenses of traditional utility regulation, as well as the deployment of distributed energy resources  and grid modernization efforts in the District, the Commission indicated that it would allow Pepco to include in its next rate case a request for Alternative Forms of Regulation (AFORs), including a MRP proposal emphasizing that “our focus in considering any alternative mechanism will include a review of the benefits that accrue to customers as opposed to solely focusing on the utility.
 
The Commission has authority to consider AFORs under D.C. Code § 34-1504 (d) if the AFOR protects consumers, ensures quality, availability and reliability of regulated services, and is in the public interest of ratepayers and shareholders. In furtherance of the District’s clean energy goals and the Commission’s Power Path DC objectives, the Commission established the framework for AFORs in the District in December 2019 to explore new tools to achieve those objectives, while also preserving a high standard of energy delivery system reliability and fostering grid modernization. 

In June 2021 the Commission issued Order No. 20755 denying Pepco’s MRP as submitted and approved a modified version referred to as the Enhanced Multiyear Rate Plan (EMRP)as a pilot for alternate forms of regulation (AFORs) for public utilities in the District. Multiple parties filed applications for reconsideration of Order No. 20755 in August of 2021. A decision by the Commission is forthcoming.
 
Formal Case No. 1160 — Development of Metrics for Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Programs
Formal Case No. 1160

In accordance with the CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018, the Commission established a working group to develop long-term energy saving metrics, performance indicators, and cost-effectiveness standards that will be embedded in the decision-making process for electric and gas energy efficiency programs and demand response programs. On October 30, 2020, the Commission adopted recommendations from the working group, establishing metrics for electric energy efficiency programs. Moreover, the Commission directed that the electric and gas utilities conduct a Technical Potential Study to inform the Commission about the development of future electricity and natural gas EEDR programs in the District. 

In July 2021, the Commission approved WGL’s RFP for an EEDR Technical Potential Study. The Commission also directed the EEDR working group to reconvene to consider unresolved issues such as the governance structure to coordinate the planning, delivery, reporting, and evaluation of EEDR programs administered by the utilities including cost allocation and recovery, filing requirements, income verification, data sharing, and additional reporting requirements, if any, and the design and recommended list of EEDR PIMs. The working group filed a report with the Commission in April 2021.
 
Formal Case No. 1167 — Implementation of Electric and Natural Gas Climate Change Proposals
Formal Case No. 1167

In Order No. 20662 issued on November 18, 2020, the Commission opened the FC1167 proceeding to consider whether, and to what extent, utility or energy companies under its purview are meeting and advancing the District of Columbia’s energy and climate goals and then take action, where necessary, to guide the companies in the right direction. The Commission directed that any new proposals to implement the District of Columbia’s climate goals filed by the Commission’s regulated utility or energy companies for Commission approval, not required to be filed in other proceedings, were to be filed in this new proceeding. Commission Order 20754 set forth the stages of this proceeding, and among other things, directed any stakeholder seeking to develop an electrification study to submit proposed timelines to the Commission for review. To date, the Commission has received several important filings, including Pepco’s Climate Solutions Plan filing, and its Electrification Study overview. The Commission will hire a consultant shortly.
 
RM 9-2020-03 — Net Energy Metering
RM 9-2020-03

To further promote the development of renewable energy facilities, the Commission recently increased the threshold for renewable energy systems participating in net metering to go beyond 100% of the customer’s historical usage and customer payment for excess generation. A renewable energy system participating in net energy metering (NEM) system can increase the generation threshold by 20% annually, starting in 2020 until the generation threshold reaches 200% in 2024. The Commission also took several steps to facilitate CREF development and the implementation of a “virtual” CREF by eliminating the requirement that a CREF be directly connected to the electric distribution system. As of August 1, 2021, 167 CREFs have registered for RPS in the District of Columbia.
 
RM 29-2020-02 — Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Rules
RM 29-2020-02

In January 2020, the Commission adopted final revisions to its Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard rules (15 DCMR §2900, et. seq.) to conform its rules with certain provisions of the CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018. The Commission has been taking steps to make the certification of renewable energy facilities easier. Notably, the Commission streamlined the RPS application process, making the filing and processing of RPS applications faster through the development of an online application system. As of August 1, 2021, the Commission has certified over 8,900 solar facilities comprising roughly 138MW. In May 2021, the Commission adopted amendments clarifying the eligibility of solar energy systems in meeting the solar portion of the Tier 1 requirement of the Renewable Portfolio Standard.
 
RM 40-2020-01/Formal Case No. 1050 — District of Columbia Small Generator Interconnection Rules
RM 40-2020-01
Formal Case No. 1050

In 2013, the D.C. Council passed the Community Renewable Energy Amendment Act which permitted the creation of Community Renewable Energy Facilities, or CREFs. CREFs allow for those not able to put solar panels on their own roofs to participate in a renewable project sponsored by someone else, often a community organization or church. As of August 1, 2021, the Commission had certified 167 CREFs for RPS that comprise roughly 20MW. The Commission has also issued a final rulemaking in August 2021 to address system upgrade costs related to the interconnection of community renewable energy facilities, small generator interconnection process, and small generator interconnection queue, as well as incorporate a definition of Advanced Inverter. The Commission has directed that a new working group to help coordinate the roll-out of advanced inverters in D.C. This technology will leverage the benefits of solar in the District. Additionally, the RM40 Working Group will continue its discussions on remaining interconnection issues.
 
GD 2019-04 — GD 2019-04-M — Implementation of the 2019 CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Act Compliance Requirements
GD 2019-04

In 2019, the Commission opened this docket to determine the analytical approach that the Commission should take when considering the effects of a utility proposal on global climate change and the District’s public policy commitments, including whether specific greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting requirements, metrics for GHG emissions reduction, and carbon footprint metrics should be used. This effort includes discussion on whether to implement GHG emissions reporting requirements, metrics for GHG reduction, and carbon footprint metrics. This undertaking utilizes working groups in which there are over 35 participants, including, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, DC SUN, and WGL, Pepco, DOEE, and OPC. The Commission hosted two Technical Conferences before re-designating the conferences as Working Group meetings. The Working Group, which is divided into three committees (Benefit-Cost Analysis Framework, Metrics, and Reporting), meets regularly focusing primarily on BCA frameworks and metrics. The final Working Group report with its recommendations are expected to be filed with the Commission in late 2021.