Solar and electric vehicles win at the D.C. Public Service Commission

By Matthew Bearzotti on May 1, 2019

In mid-April, Washington D.C.’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approved parts of a request made by the city’s utility, Pepco, to move forward on investing in transportation electrification. Pepco’s proposed program included electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure (like higher voltage direct current fast chargers), electric bus charging infrastructure, residential charging equipment rebates, and a special electricity rate (called a time-of-use rate) designed to encourage EV drivers to charge overnight, when electricity demand is low.

The proposal, over two years in the making, was supported by many environmental advocates and clean energy businesses who view electrifying transportation as a way to mitigate the sector’s emissions. Because electric vehicles pair so well with solar while also addressing the fact that emissions from transportation are now the single largest direct source of greenhouse gases in D.C., Solar United Neighbors counted ourselves among the supportive groups.

However, when Pepco originally submitted the program proposal in 2017, it contained one element that we could not support. The utility decided that solar customers who are signed up for net metering could not participate in the special EV rate for charging at night. The reasoning behind this decision was unclear, and we objected in regulatory filings. Later that year, the PSC turned down the proposal, asking Pepco to go back to the drawing board.

The utility did so, even opening up public stakeholder meetings to seek input. Through this process, Solar United Neighbors was able to assert the need for net-metered customers to receive the same benefits as other D.C. ratepayers. When Pepco resubmitted its program proposal to the PSC last year, its time-of-use offering was also available to solar customers, albeit with unclear language on exactly how the combination of net-metering and time-of-use rates would work.

The commission’s order last month cemented a win for solar, noting in paragraph 35 that these rate offerings should be restated and clarified. The PSC also directed Pepco to convene a stakeholder group, which Solar United Neighbors looks forward to being a part of as we work together to optimize how the District develops distributed energy resources like solar and electric vehicles.