Our Public Service Commission is currently reviewing a proceeding (FC 1130) that explores how to improve our electric grid. This is an important step forward because it gives us the opportunity to create an energy system that creates wealth and benefits for low-income citizens in the District. The Public Service Commission should ensure that all District residents have:
- Energy Democracy, which gives communities greater control over their energy resources. With energy democracy, citizens have a say in how their energy system operates. Low-income communities can participate in and benefit from efforts to expand access to sustainable energy resources. Energy democracy also creates new opportunities to own clean energy resources and create wealth.
- Advanced technologies, which create opportunities communities to manage their energy use, which leads to greater savings and a pathway towards financial stability.
- Strong local economies, which happen when community control and input over energy resources leads to a change in the economic opportunities for low-income communities in D.C. Research shows that increased community control over energy resources leads to marginalized communities having a larger share in the economic boom of our energy system, because it leads to policies and tools that promote economic benefit, living wage jobs, and opportunities for ownership.
Making the electric grid more fair
Most of the electricity we currently use is generated remotely and brought to high population centers via high-voltage transmission lines. From there it is distributed to customers. Each element of the electrical grid is centralized, limiting choice and participation by us, the consumers.
As the grid developed and expanded across the country in 20th century, centralization was essential to bringing down the cost of service. But, the way we deliver electricity is changing. Distributed solar energy, wind energy, smart meters, demand management, and electrical storage are pushing changes to electrical grids and the rules that manage them.
Thoughtful conversations are taking place around the country on how a re-shaped electricity grid looks. Organizations like the Institute for Local Self-Reliance advocate for a grid that embodies the principles of Energy Democracy. This means a grid that is economically beneficial to all electricity users, and one that empowers them to control where their electricity comes from.
Improvements in decentralized wind and solar technologies mean that many more consumers can now benefit from renewable energy cost savings and reliability, provided the new grid systems are designed to support broad consumer participation. We should all have a say in how energy delivery systems function, who can participate, and who can benefit.
How we can create a pathway to a grid for everyone’s future
There are a lot of different ways we bring an electric grid that benefits everyone in the District. These include:
- Support a plan to put the District on pathway toward net zero energy use, where the city creates as much energy as it uses.
- Mandate that the energy burden all District residents not exceed 10% of their annual income.
- Stimulate and promote a “sharing economy” and energy democracy so that locally-owned renewable energy and locally-owned micro-grids flourish. This will distribute wealth and benefits within the city and integrate seamlessly with the current system.
- Optimize renewable energy goals while also increasing reliability and reducing costs to rate-payers.
DC SUN will continue to track these proceedings. Below you will find documents we’ve submitted in response to the PSC’s request for comment.