Solar community fight to protect funding results in partial fix

By Ben Delman on June 15, 2017

Hundreds of D.C. solar activists joined together over the past week to urge the D.C. Council to restore funding to programs critical to expanding solar access to all District residents.

The week before last, D.C. Council Chair, Phil Mendelson, took $7.5 million from the Renewable Energy Development Fund (REDF) and re-programed it to the District’s general fund. This action would have significantly slowed further development of renewable energy in the District.

This would have specifically harmed the District’s “Solar for All” Program. Solar for All, passed unanimously by the Council last summer, set an ambitious goal of using solar to offset energy costs for 100,000 low-income residents. This program would help families stay in their homes, create good local jobs, and make D.C. a national leader in solar.

Earlier this week, the D.C. Council voted to restore $2 million to REDF as part of its FY2018 budget. The Council’s action demonstrates the power D.C.’s solar community has when we work together to fight for our solar rights. We believe that the only way we will be able to develop a comprehensive and effective Solar for All Program is if the D.C. Council pledges to stops raiding the fund.

As Betty Anne Kane Chair of the DC Public Service Commission recently said about the raid, “…it is wrong—very wrong. The money in the Renewable Energy Development Fund is restricted by law for use in developing renewable energy resources, and in particular to support the Solar For All program to lower the electricity bills of at least 100,000 low income District resident customers. The Renewable Energy Development Fund is not a piggy bank to be raided at will. “

D.C.’s solar community must stay vigilant. The focus now goes to the Department of Energy and Environment to ensure they effectively spend the money they do have.