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How We Can Modernize DC's Grid

 

modernizing our grid

We're building a coalition of residents and businesses who are tired of the status quo — who want to reduce utility costs, deploy renewables, and create a booming clean energy economy. 

And we're advocating for real action and legislation to make this happen.

 

1. Build the Coalition

We know our aging infrastructure — based on a centralized system designed for the city's needs 50-100 years ago — needs help. Moving forward, we face essentially two choices:

Status Quo: Double-down on the centralized 20th-century system. This means investing billions more dollars to repair and replace 20th century infrastructure, taking wait-and-see approach with technological innovation, and promoting clean energy at the margins.

New Way: Move the system towards more distributed resources, transparency, and data-driven processes. This means recalibrating ratepayer dollars and modifying centuries-old rules — and enabling the deployment of cleaner, distributed resources throughout the city (e.g. battery storage, smart appliances, rooftop solar).

Only this new path will lead to a city that's more resilient to weather and security events; to an environment in which the regulated utility is a partner, not an adversary, to build a smarter grid; to aggressive steps to decarbonize our local grid with clean energy.

The Coalition for a Resilient DC is organizing Washingtonians who know we need this new way. These are residents and businesses who are demanding action to modernize our energy system — and who want an actionable strategy to make big changes.

We need your help to make CRDC a force that can deliver the big changes required. At this point, there are two quick, easy steps you take: (a) sign up for our email list using the button below (very few emails, we promise!); and (b) spread the word. If could send this website to your friends to get them involved, that would be enormously helpful. Also, once you're signed up for the email list, we'll let you know when and where our April kick-off event will take place.


2. Introduce Legislation

Over the past decade, the District has seen hundreds of working groups and stakeholder meetings; dozens of white papers and vision statements; ever-increasing goals and commitments. The Coalition for a Resilient DC recognizes that some of this goal-setting and planning has been important — but we also know it's time to take concrete steps for real change. The most direct route?

Legislation.

Our energy system is defined by the laws and regulations that govern it. So, if we want to change our grid, the path forward is simple: let's change the laws and regulations.

For almost a year, CRDC has worked with DC Councilmember Charles Allen and his staff to reimagine what's possible. With his leadership, we've met with local and national experts — drawing on experiences in New York, California, Texas, Illinois, and here at home — to support an effort to draft smart grid legislation.

After an arduous process, this legislation has become a reality. On May 10, 2018, the DC Council introduced Bill 22-123, "The Districted Energy Resource Authority." The bill, co-authored by Councilmember Mary Cheh and co-introduced by Councilmembers XXX, is now expected to go through the traditional legislative process. 

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3. support & pass legislation

This legislative process may be fraught with hurdles. Some context: A successful bill would go through a public hearing, the Committee would markup (i.e. amend) and then vote on the bill, and the full 13-member DC Council would ultimately vote on the bill. With 7 votes, the bill passes and the Mayor can sign it into law; with 9 votes, the Council could override any veto to make the legislation law.

At each of these steps, the bill could stall or be killed. T who seek to preserve the status quo may fight hard — with lobbyists, media campaigns, etc. — that seek to sway Council action.

But nothing is more effective than what we have: DC residents and businesses demanding change. Once you're signed up to be on the team, we'll alert you about the following:

  • Council contact. At key points of the legislative process, we'll let you know when an email or call to your Councilmember could help. We may also organize a "lobby day" when a group of us go the Wilson Building (city hall) to lobby Councilmembers and their staff in person.
  • Committee hearing testimony. We'll let you know when and how you could testify in favor the bill.
  • Community events. We'll let you know organizing events — and even community meetings in your neighborhood where you could help spread the word.