DC Sierra Club Applauds District’s Denial of Pepco-Exelon Merger
PSC Order is Win for the Grassroots; Clear Victory for Clean Energy & Environment
This morning, in a victory for the environment and after months of deliberation, the DC Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a decision denying the request of the Exelon Corporation to purchase DC’s sole electric utility, Pepco.
The DC Chapter of the Sierra Club has fought the proposed merger given concerns that it would harm DC ratepayers, do little to advance DC’s environmental and clean energy goals, and was not in the public interest. Leveraging the power of grassroots support, the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club, along with a cross section of DC-based organizations, formed POWER DC, a coalition that worked to educate, organize, and fight back against Exelon’s takeover of the local utility.
According to the PSC, this “proceeding has generated more interest and more active participation by parties and interested persons than any other proceeding in the Commission’s more than a century of operations.”
“This is a major victory for the grassroots,” said Matthew Gravatt, Chair of the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club. “The Sierra Club’s work to highlight the environmental and community impacts of the proposed merger were a key part of this win.”
“DC has made a commitment to the preservation of environmental quality and the expansion of clean energy options; the PSC’s decision and the outpouring of public support is proof that clean energy and the environment are on the minds of District residents,” said Gravatt.
The PSC decision to deny the takeover states the merger is not in the public interest at “a time when our city’s leadership, at the urging of many residents, has mandated that the District must pursue a cleaner and greener future that includes more renewable energy resources and more distributed generation.”
Additionally, the PSC expressed its concern “about the inherent conflict of interest that might inhibit our local distribution company from moving forward to embrace a cleaner and greener environment.”
Larry Martin, past DC Chapter Energy Committee Chair, and expert witness against the merger in the evidentiary hearing, said “our focus on the environmental outcome of the decision hung on a provision unique in DC – that PSC decisions need to consider conservation of natural resources and preservation of environmental quality.”
Said Martin: “We made an excellent case that Exelon’s record on energy efficiency and renewables was incompatible with DC’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean, renewable energy and efficiency.”
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the country. The Washington, DC Chapter comprises more than 3,600 members and supporters in Washington, DC and is actively involved in local conservation, clean and renewable energy, smart growth initiatives, and local elections; the Chapter hosts a wide range of environmental and conservation focused events, and provides numerous volunteer opportunities.
On October 1, the D.C. Council voted unanimously to pass Community Renewables Energy Act (CREA), the historic legislation which establishes a new program to help District families, schools and businesses to go solar for the first time. The program will be available to all D.C. energy customers, and will allow them to sign up for up to 100% local renewable energy for their home or business. Advocates applauded the Council members for giving D.C. residents more ways to help deliver local jobs and reduce energy costs.
Many D.C. energy consumers can now go solar. Electric utility Pepco (Washington, DC, U.S.) worked with solar advocates to develop the program. Donna M. Cooper, President of Pepco Region, commented: "Not only are we committed to delivering safe and reliable electricity, we are also committed to collaborating with the District of Columbia government and other stakeholders to become a model of innovative environmental policies and practices, including the expansion of renewable energy to District of Columbia residents."
Despite tremendous growth in solar adoption nationwide, many DC energy consumers, including the 60% of renters, are unable to invest in their own on-site solar energy systems. Shared renewables arrangements overcome that barrier by allowing energy customers to subscribe to an off-site renewable energy project and get utility bill credit for their portion of the energy produced. More information.