D.C. utility company Pepco under investigation for sabotaging solar in low-income communities

By Anya Schoolman on June 9, 2022

Monopoly utility Pepco is overcharging thousands of low-income families who are participating in community solar. This finding comes from an investigation from D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine. Released in March, the investigation found that as many as 6,800 households could be victims.

Solar has the power to save low-income families money and take control of where their electricity comes from. Community solar can allow them to go solar with no upfront cost.

How community solar works

Community solar allows participants to benefit from solar energy, even if they can’t install solar on their homes. Community solar participants buy or lease a “share” of a system. They earn a credit on their bill each month. The size of the credit depends on the size of the share.

How and why Pepco is throttling community solar

Pepco is abusing their monopoly power. They’re doing so by weakening community solar for D.C. customers. They’ve done so in several ways:

  • Not properly crediting community solar participants
  • Undercounting the amount of solar generated from community solar
  • Underpaying community solar project owners

Many district residents don’t have the ability to install solar where they live. This may be because they lack the financial resources to invest in solar. It also may be because they rent or live in multi-family housing.

This is where community solar comes in. A free or low-cost subscription through income-based programs like Solar For All lets all residents to benefit from local solar energy generation.

Unfortunately, many customers who have opted-in to the Solar For All program are failing to receive the promised discounts on energy bills. They are receiving lower than expected or zero bill credits.

It’s time for solar supporters to act

Pepco’s failed promises and appalling attempt to sabotage community solar programs are now coming to light. Solar United Neighbors has helped elevate the concerns highlighted in the A.G.’s investigation. We’ve brought forth consumer complaints and activated our network of solar advocates.

When customers fail to pay their bills, Pepco shuts the lights off. Pepco should be held to the same standard. Pepco is failing to credit community solar customers what they deserve and must be held accountable. Now is the time for solar advocates to urge the Public Service Commission and the D.C. Council to open a formal investigation into Pepco’s community solar misdeeds and interconnection issues. If you have had personal experience with Pepco’s dirty tricks, please include that in your message. Take action now.

If you want to learn more about community solar and stay up to date on our fight to bring more solar to homes and businesses in D.C., sign up for our email listserv and email dcteam@solarunitedneighbors.org to get involved with our local Solar Action Team.