DC SUN Fights to Defend DC Solar Program

By Emily Steiver on December 1, 2010

Yesterday, representatives from Mt Pleasant Solar Coop, Capital Hill Solar Coop, Ward 8 Solar Coop, Solar Solutions and Solar City installation companies testified on the need not to cut the solar rebate REIP budget. We emphasized that the rebate program is designed to build a market—and that it is working! Atta Kiarash from Solar Solutions emphasized that the sales tax his company alone pays on solar sales in DC is half the value of the proposed cut! Not to mention the income tax paid by his employees and all the other expenditures. We made a strong point that cutting the fund would be short sighted and ultimately make DC’s budget problems and employment problmes worse. We argued that it is wrong to cut the budget now—just when the program is finally up and running! We also reminded Mayor Elect Grey that he campaigned on the idea that special purpose funds such as the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund- should not be raided for general expenses. The trust fund comes from a surcharge on our Pepco bills and should be off limits. To raid this money is a violation of public trust and it fundamentally undermines the public’s willingness to support special purpose fees in the future. Grey and other members of the Council present including Graham, Cheh, Wells and Bowser appeared to be sympathetic but made no commitments.
They expect to make a decision about the budget by Tuesday. Letters, emails and calls would be helpful.