- Potomac Electric Power Co. (Pepco) filed a "Climate Solutions Plan" with District of Columbia regulators on Tuesday, sketching out a high-level approach to providing clean energy in the nation's capital that includes a focus on electric vehicles, building decarbonization and a variety of grid modernization technologies.
- More detailed decarbonization plans, including implementation and cost-benefit analysis, are due to the D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) in October, when Pepco will need to flesh out its strategies for the next five and 30 years.
- Utility officials say it is not clear yet whether investments it is proposing under the Climate Solutions Plan would be eligible for the new performance incentive mechanisms (PIMs) regulators approved in June as part of a contentious multiyear rate case. Pepco says it plans to work closely with stakeholders in the coming months as it develops the next filings.
The District of Columbia is aiming for 100% renewable energy by 2032, and Pepco's plan is designed around that goal, said David Schatz, director of strategy for Pepco Holdings.
"We're still putting together the finer pieces on the five- and 30-year filings, especially," Schatz said. "Once we put in those filings, later in the year, in October, we will spell out the connection between the PIMs and this suite of programs."
"At this juncture, this is really the high-level strategy filing that spells out our approach," Schatz said. The level of investments needed to reach the district's clean energy goals will be "explored in future filings."
The PSC approved PIMs as a part of Pepco's multiyear rate plan, despite the lack of support from many of the active parties in that case. Asked about the need to find consensus, Pepco says it is committed to stakeholder outreach as it develops more details around the Climate Solutions Plan.
"We will be doing a number of stakeholder workshops in between all of our filings, in and around our filings, from here to the end of the year, to take in feedback," Schatz said, and "really create a D.C.-driven set of solutions."
The District of Columbia Office of the People's Counsel (OPC) said climate change solutions must also achieve equity, reliability and safety.
"In reviewing Pepco’s plan, OPC will be paying particular scrutiny to how the plan approaches equity and reliability issues in the District, whether the plan produces benefits for ratepayers, achieves cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, [is] on track to meet the District’s climate change goals, and how the plan impacts competition," the consumer advocate said in a statement.
David Smedick, an acting deputy regional campaign director for Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, said in an email that the group is looking forward to "more specific plans and analysis."
The PSC, city council and mayor "need to be gearing up significant policies and programs that will equitably electrify the District's building stock," Smedick said. "As Pepco alludes to in their Climate Solutions Plan, the District is going to need incentives, consumer education, contractor education, and more to ensure that we more equitably transition away from the gas system."
That will mean moving homes and businesses off gas appliances and instead using heat pumps or other electrification technologies, said Smedick.
"D.C. is a very specific jurisdiction, and this is tailored for the District," said Schatz. "Buildings represent a really significant footprint for [greenhouse gases] in the District. [In] our Climate Solutions Plan, we're committing a lot of programs that are specific to the mix of building types," including multifamily buildings, single-family homes and commercial spaces.
"We will have a suite of programs for each of those segments," said Schatz. "As you look at the plan, you'll see a real focus on the ways you can decarbonize a building, energy efficiency being a primary driver." Electrification will play a key role as well, he said, to eliminate the carbon emissions associated with hot water heating and heating and cooling.
Pepco's Climate Solutions Plan also calls for enhancing grid infrastructure and "activating the local energy ecosystem," which Schatz said includes "facilitating more local clean energy resources" through grid interactive batteries, virtual power plants, load flexibility programs and facilitating community solar.
"What we're talking about is harnessing grid resources," he said.