December 2022 – District of Columbia Policy Update
December 7, 2022
BPA tracks the latest policy updates and legislative issues in many states across the nation. See the latest policy information for Washington D.C. as of December 2022.
Disclaimer: Inclusion of any bills/regulations in this state policy update does not equate to BPA’s endorsement.
In November, the DC Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency (CCCR) – established in 2016 to advise District agencies and DC Council on efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change – released a report with recommendations to support the District’s recently increased climate goals to achieve 100% carbon neutrality by 2045, and a net-zero energy code for new construction, prohibiting the use of fossil fuels for space and water heat for new commercial and public buildings by 2027 (see the Climate Commitment Act of 2021 and Clean Energy DC Building Code Amendment Act of 2021 below for more details on these goals). Building off these goals, the report proposes a set of recommendations for agencies including the DC Council, Public Service Commission (PSC), and Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) to “phase out fossil gas in commercial and residential buildings.” The report recommends that DC Council pass “legislation to ban the installation of new gas-fired appliances in any buildings” and for DC PSC to “establish a clear timeline with enforceable milestones” for District energy providers to phase out fossil gas. While the CCCR does not have authority to mandate any recommendations made in the report, it may be used by District agencies to help facilitate DC climate and clean energy goals. The CCCR will host its quarterly meeting on December 8 providing time for public comments on the release of this report.
- On Friday December 2, DOEE is hosting a public hearing focused on the additional federal funding passed through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in 2021 for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Through IIJA, D.C. will receive an additional $5 million for WAP which provides low-income residents technical and financial assistance to help reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient, based on the additional $5 million allocated to D.C. through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by U.S. Congress in 2021.
- DC PSC has approved the Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Program proposed by Pepco to implement a new set of energy efficiency programs in DC (more details below) and the DC Clean Energy Advantage Loan Program providing low-interest loans to DC residents for energy efficiency home improvements including energy audits, building envelope improvements, HVAC upgrades, and other efficient appliance replacements. Contractors may register at cealoan.org to participate in the program.
- On November 4, the PSC received a report from the Customer Impact Working Group (CIWG), composed of industry stakeholders, utilities, and public advocates, addressing estimated costs and outstanding issues for implementation of Green Button Connect My Data (CMD) platform across existing advanced metering infrastructure in the district. The report includes recommendations for PSC to authorize additional CIWG meetings to address disagreement relating to customer authorization forms, user interface design, consumer protection and any other issues to ensure best implementation of CMD. PSC has not issued a decision in response to the report at the time of this writing.
- As part of Formal Case No. 1167, DC PSC continues to review stakeholder comments on Pepco’s Climate Action Plan, which is designed to meet clean energy goals set by the DC Clean Energy Act of 2018 of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2032, 50% energy reduction in all DC buildings by 2030, and 100% all-electric homes by 2050. Towards these goals, Pepco has proposed a suite of residential and commercial energy efficiency programs over the next 5 years that provide rebates for efficient electric appliances, HVAC systems, smart thermostats, and other emissions-reduction measures in homes. Pepco also released a long-term, 30-year plan that highlights rebates for high efficiency and electric appliances, grid-integrated thermostats, and building retrofits as a key to meeting clean energy goals through 2050. After closing a period for public comment, PSC is anticipated to make a final ruling on Pepco’s proposal to launch residential and commercial energy efficiency programs starting in 2023.
- On August 10, the DC PSC approved Pepco’s proposed Energy Efficiency and Demand Response (EEDR) Program to help reduce the amount of energy used by homes and businesses in the District. The approved EEDR Program portfolio will be funded through a monthly surcharge on utility customers’ bills and consists of nine programs, including Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, Bring Your Own Device residential demand response, My Energy Target Program using AMI data and modeling tools to provide customized savings targets, and midstream rebates for contractors and distributors. Beginning on January 1, 2023, Pepco will launch the host of newly approved EEDR Programs through the end of 2026.
2022 Regular Session Dates: January 3 until December 31. **Note: Legislature meets throughout the year.
Bills passed in 2022:
- Climate Commitment Act of 2021 codifies a District-wide goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, adding an interim target of 60% greenhouse gas reductions by 2030. To meet these goals, the legislation would prohibit fossil fuel heating and cooling systems in new public buildings such as schools or government buildings by 2026. Introduced in May 2021, DC Council voted unanimously to approve this bill on July 12. The bill received final signature into law from Mayor Bowser on July 27.
- Clean Energy DC Building Code Amendment Act of 2021 would require all new commercial buildings constructed in DC to comply with a net zero energy code starting in 2027. To meet this requirement, the legislation prohibits the use of fossil fuels for space and water heat in new buildings greater than four stories – including for residential purposes. Introduced on October 8, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment held a vote passing the bill unanimously on June 28 and the full DC Council voted unanimously to approve this bill on July 12. The bill received final signature into law from Mayor Bowser on July 27.
- Local Budget Act of 2022 is the DC budget bill for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes $30 million for the Department of Housing and Community Development to provide financing for energy audits and energy efficiency upgrades and additional funding for the Department of Employment Services to establish a Workforce Investment Council to provide recommendations to train workers in energy efficiency trades. The budget prohibits the District government from installing gas fired space- or water-heating systems in District-owned buildings, beginning January 1, 2025. DC Council voted to approve the full FY23 budget bill on May 24, which will take effect on October 1.