Empowering DC through sustainable energy management

Challenge:

In 2008, the District of Columbia set out to accomplish four ambitious goals: reduce city-wide energy use, improve the energy efficiency of low-income housing, create green jobs for residents, and generate economic opportunities for District-based businesses.

With that in mind, the Council of the District of Columbia enacted the Clean and Affordable Energy Act (CAEA) the same year. The CAEA required the creation of a “Sustainable Energy Utility” and established a Sustainable Energy Trust Fund, financed by a surcharge on all electric and natural gas utility ratepayers in the District. The Sustainable Energy Utility was charged with meeting all of the District’s goals for energy efficiency and equal economic opportunity.

Renowned for the development and administration of the nation’s first energy efficiency utility in Vermont, and for its expertise in serving a variety of low-income and small-business customers, VEIC was hired in 2011 to operate the Sustainable Energy Utility along with eight District-based partners.

Solution:

In 2011 VEIC sent ten Vermont staff to D.C. to open a local office, begin administering the new D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU), and hire and train new staff—all residents of D.C.

During the first year of operation, the DCSEU ran a series of quick-start initiatives to install energy efficiency measures in low-income multifamily buildings, in addition to offering a half-day of weatherization services to single-family homeowners. Since then, the DCSEU has developed a full portfolio of 12 initiatives that serve all major District customer groups with market-based initiatives.

Results:

  • Increased green jobs in the District of Columbia. (100% of DCSEU hires are District residents.)
  • Reduced per-capita electricity and natural gas consumption, saving a total of 50,000 megawatt hours of electricity and 53,000 Mcf of natural gas in 2013.
  • Increased renewable energy generating capacity.
  • Slowed growth of peak electricity demand.
  • Invested $5.6 million in energy efficiency for low-income housing.
  • Spent $4.6 million with District-based Certified Business Enterprises.