Dear Chairman Mendelson;
I am writing to repeat my strong opposition to your proposal to take $7.5 million from the Renewable Energy Development Fund and move it to the General Fund in the FY 2018 budget.
Please vote tomorrow to right this wrong.
Because it is wrong—very wrong.
The money in the Renewable Energy Development Fund is restricted by law for use in developing renewable energy resources, and in particular to support the Solar For All program to lower the electricity bills of at least 100,000 low income District resident customers. The Renewable Energy Development Fund was specifically set up by the Council to operate without fiscal year limitation. The Fund is SUPPOSED to have a balance at the end of the fiscal year—it’s the best way to allow multi-year planning and commit support so projects that don’t have to stop and start every 12 months.
The money in the Renewable Energy Development Fund comes from electricity ratepayers. Retail electricity suppliers have to pay the Alternative Compliance Fee into the Fund—and pass the cost on to their customers– because there are not enough solar facilities in the District from which they can purchase Solar Renewable Energy Credits. So taking the money sets up a vicious circle—it isn’t used to support solar facilities, so there are fewer facilities with SRECs to sell to suppliers, so the suppliers and their customers have to pay more compliance fees, never closing the gap and costing customers more and more each year.
DC customers paid $15 million extra because of the shortfall in DC-based solar facilities in 2016. Our consultant estimates that DC residences and businesses already pay 10% more for electricity because of the cost of RPS including the Alternative Compliance Fee.
Saying that it is okay because more money will come in next year to pay for this year’s projects doesn’t help either. It just means that customers are paying twice for the same thing.
The Council raised the Alternative Compliance Fee last year, keeping it at its high level through 2023. The least you can do is guarantee that it will all be used for its intended purpose, to develop more renewable energy for all parts of the city and eliminate the growing shortfall of DC based solar—and the need for more and more fees to be passed on to electricity customers.
After the embarrassing report of the DC Auditor last year, which found that almost $40 million had been diverted by the Council from the REDF in its initial years, I was pleased to see that the practice had stopped in fiscal 2017 and was not proposed by the Mayor for fiscal 2018. Whatever could be a justification for proposing this wrong practice again?
The Renewable Energy Development Fund is not a piggy bank to be raided at will.
Please reverse this wrong decision.
Betty Ann Kane
Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia
1325 G Street, N. W., Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005