D.C. council passes ‘100 by 32’ renewable mandate

Source: David Iaconangelo, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Washington, D.C., City Council has approved a measure that would decarbonize the city’s power supply by 2032, the nation’s swiftest path to renewable electricity.

In remarks just before the unanimous vote, councilwoman and lead sponsor Mary Cheh said the law would serve as a model for other jurisdictions and couched the issue in moral terms.

“We’re doing this because it’s a moral imperative,” she said. “Unless we take action, we will leave a catastrophe to our grandchildren. And I don’t want my grandchild looking me in the face and saying, ‘Why did you do nothing?'”

Advocates from the DC Climate Coalition, which brings together green, labor, faith and consumer groups, said in a jubilant post-vote conference that the bill, which Mayor Muriel Bowser supports, would certify the district’s role as a climate leader.

“This is the strongest climate legislation anywhere in the country,” said Jamie DeMarco, a coordinator with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

The “D.C. Clean Energy Omnibus Act” also got the support of Exelon-owned Pepco, which called it “an important step toward advancing the cause of clean energy.” But the utility ruffled feathers when it won a late-stage amendment giving it the right to carry out energy-efficiency programs and recover the costs from ratepayers.

Cheh said the company had “hijacked the bill for energy programs” but urged the City Council not to “lose sight of the basic fact here that this bill is historic.”

Similar renewable policies are likely to be taken up next year in New York, whose governor announced he would seek a 100 percent standard for renewable electricity yesterday, and in Maryland, where a supermajority in both state legislative chambers have pledged support.

One bit of climate action contemplated in the D.C. council’s bill was advanced yesterday, when the district and nine Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states announced they would create a regionwide policy for curbing emissions from the transportation sector. The clean energy act would authorize the mayor to sign onto such a policy (Energywire, Nov. 28).

It also contains carve outs for solar generated within the district and limits sourcing of renewable power to other states on the PJM regional grid. Buildings would be subject to new emissions standards and taxes on vehicle registrations tied to fuel efficiency, while a clean energy investment fund would see an influx of new funding from heating bills.