Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) Report


Electricity suppliers in the District must provide an increasing percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, following rules created by the DCPSC. The Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Program (RPS) was established to help create a market in the District for electricity from renewable sources.

2022 Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Report
The 2022 Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Report highlights the continued growth in solar energy generator applications in the District as well as the significant increase in Community Renewable Energy Facilities (CREFs) which jumped from a total of 12 certified facilities in 2019 to 219 by the end of 2021. This increase reflects the District’s aggressive Clean Energy DC plan as well as solar programs and resources available to District residents and businesses.

The Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Act requires the DCPSC to annually report on the status of RPS implementation. The report includes data on the number of renewable generators approved by the Commission and the availability of renewable resources in the District. The report also includes the number of renewable energy credits retired by the electricity suppliers to meet the RPS requirements. The following chart shows year-to-year increases in the cumulative number of renewable systems certified by the Commission.

2022 RPS Report Highlights
Growth of solar energy systems
The District’s RPS was enacted in 2005 and the first compliance year started in 2007. The RPS changed through legislation several times before the CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018.
The most recent update puts the District on track to 100% renewable energy by 2032 with a 10% solar carve-out coming from local solar by 2041. Since the 2018 legislation was enacted, the Commission has continued increasing solar energy in the District.
Significant RPS-certified solar facility expansion continued in 2021, despite pandemic conditions and other market challenges. 2,337 new solar energy systems, including 2,077 District systems (of which 82 were CREFs), were approved for the RPS program as of year-end 2021.
District RPS-eligible solar energy systems by Ward as of December 31, 2021
  Number of systems % of total systems MW % of total MW generated
Ward 1 916 9.1% 8.9 5.8%
Ward 2 381 3.8% 7.2 4.7%
Ward 3  948  9.5% 13.4 8.7%
Ward 4 2,003  20.0% 20.5 13.3%
Ward 5 1,716 17.1% 29.1 18.8%
Ward 6 1,255 12.5% 17.8 11.5%
Ward 7 1,800 18.0% 26.4 17.1%
Ward 8 994 9.9% 31.4 20.3%

RPS Compliance
The current RPS requires annually increasing percentages of the District’s electricity sales to be covered by purchased renewable energy credits (RECs) from renewable facilities certified for the RPS that are located outside the District, purchased RECs from systems certified for RPS in the District, and/or compliance payments.
In 2021, the requirements included 26.25% renewable from Tier I resources, 0% renewable from Tier II resources, and 2.5% of sales had to be from solar resources. If an energy supplier has a REC shortfall, they had to pay a compliance payment. Electricity suppliers have generally met the Tier I and Tier II requirements by submitting RECs. The Tier II requirement has ended as of the 2020 compliance year.

Solar Capacity
The chart below provides a comparison of the estimated solar capacity needed to meet the solar RPS requirement under the CleanEnergy Act. The solar capacity of 191.8 MW as of December 31, 2021, exceeded the estimated required solar carve-out capacity of 182.3 MW.
Future of Solar PV in the District of Columbia,” a 2020 report from the Office of the People’s Counsel, indicated that the District’s solar carve-out will likely prove to be challenging to meet. At the time, the District had not met
its solar carve-out obligation due to several critical barriers:
  • Distribution system hosting capacity constraints
  • Limited space for solar development
  • High upfront solar costs
  • Customer financing barriers
  • Significant share represented by soft costs in the overall cost of solar deployment
  • Uncertainty of the SREC program
The report goes on to state that though ground-mounted solar is typically less costly than rooftop solar on a per-megawatt basis, the availability of space for ground-mounted solar is limited given the District’s dense urban environment. Thus, the solar carve-out will likely be primarily met through more expensive rooftop and parking lot canopy installations. Achieving the solar carve-out objectives is technically feasible through the development of rooftop and parking lot solar systems but will require substantial ongoing investment and engagement by the
District and developers alike.
The report also provided the technical potential and economically feasible estimates of the solar capacity needed to meet the District’s carve-out requirements:
  • An estimated 665 MW of solar capacity is needed to meet the 10% requirement by 2041
  • After considering shading and other installation barriers, the District has only 1,300 MW of solar potential
  • Meeting the solar carve-out will only be “economically feasible” with an SREC price above a certain minimum level
  • The alternative compliance payment (ACP) is presently set at $500 and will fall to $400 in 2024 and to $300 in 2029
  • Questions remain whether the District will meet its solar targets in later years under a diminished ACP