The District of Columbia (Washington, DC) City Council voted before Christmas in favor of passing the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 which implements a 100% renewable energy target by 2032.
Before the City Council adjourned for its Christmas recess, the twenty-second two-year Council Period held its final meeting on December 18 in which it voted on several pieces of legislation, including the 100% renewable energy target. The pithily named Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 had already received one of two necessary votes to proceed and was passed at the final Council meeting of the year.
The bill implements a 100% renewable energy target by 2032 with a 10% solar energy carve-out by 2041, and also mandates zero-emissions public transportation by 2045. The bill is being described as the most ambitious renewable energy policy in the country.
“The ‘Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act’ is a historic piece of legislation that puts the District at the nation’s forefront in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Councilmember Mary Cheh, Ward 3, who is responsible for bringing forward the legislation. “The fight to reduce the impacts of climate change is the most important environmental issue of our time and, if the federal government is to abandon us in this effort, then the District can serve as a model for other jurisdictions and states to follow.”
Councilmember Cheh introduced the legislation in July of 2018, after which it was referred to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment and then referred to the Committee on Business and Economic Development, chaired by Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie. McDuffie’s committee further strengthened the bill by adding provisions to support workforce development.
“I am proud that the District of Columbia is leading the nation on environmental justice and will have 100% renewable energy by 2032,” said Councilmember McDuffie. “I want to thank Councilmember Cheh and her committee, as well as the community of advocates, for their work on this legislation which sets aggressive benchmarks for energy efficiency, balanced with increased benefits for low-income residents, investments in workforce development, and stringent CBE requirements.”
Major provisions in the legislation, according to Councilmember Chef’s press release, include:
- New Building Emissions Standards – The Building Energy Performance Standard Program for privately-owned and District government buildings will be the first of its kind in the country. Implemented by the Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE), the program will guide the District’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, most often large commercial buildings, in retrofitting their buildings to become more energy efficient.
- Transitioning to Renewable Energy Sources – Currently, Pepco customers must opt-in to purchasing energy from renewable sources. The “Clean Energy DC Act” would flip that option so that residents must opt-out of purchasing renewable energy. The legislation also requires that 100% of electricity sold in the District come from renewable sources by 2032.
- Funding local sustainability initiatives – To fund the Green Finance Authority, commonly known as the District’s Green Bank, and strengthen funding available for low-incoming energy assistance, this bill will increase the SETF fee for electricity and natural gas consumption. It does so in a way that will result in less than a $1 increase to residents’ average monthly electric bills and about a $2.10 increase to residents’ average monthly gas bills. 20% of the generated funds will be used by DOEE to provide relief to low-income residents struggling to pay energy bills.
- Transportation Emissions –Once passed, this legislation will direct the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue rules that make the District’s vehicle excise tax amount dependent upon fuel efficiency, therefore incentivizing the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles. The bill will also authorize the Mayor to establish a greenhouse gas fee on motor fuel if Maryland or Virginia also do so and authorizes the Mayor to join in any forthcoming regional transportation-sector greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.