District of Columbia Council Unanimously Approves Bill for 50% Renewable Energy Mandate

The District of Columbia Council unanimously approved legislation (B21-650) to expand the District’s renewable energy target to 50% percent by 2032.

The bill raises the bar from the District’s existing 20%-by-2020 renewable energy standard. It would also establish a “Solar for All” program designed to cut the electric bills of 100,000 low-income households in half by 2032 through the use of conservation and clean energy resources.

The measure now moves to Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), who is likely to sign it. While she has not endoresed this measure specifically, Bowser has voiced support a 50% renewable energy goal set by former Mayor Vince Gray as a part of his Sustainable DC effort in 2013.

Legislation in the District of Columbia could mean the nation’s capital will join the ranks of states with aggressive renewable energy targets, such as California, New York and, more recently, Oregon.

The D.C. bill would also create incentives for 1,500 MW of new solar and wind power, according to the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN).

“Solar and wind are the fastest growing sources of power, and D.C. is positioning itself to capture the benefits of cleaner air, thousands of new jobs, and a better future for all residents,” Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said in a statement.

In testimony before the D.C. Council, James McGarry, policy director for Maryland and D.C. at CCAN, said, “D.C. has more than enough renewable resources at hand to meet and exceed the 50% target approved today.”

He said D.C. can meet its higher goal by tapping just 11% of the wind power already in the PJM Interconnection’s queue, adding that the District’s total solar potential is 2 GW, or four times greater than the 5% solar “carve-out” set by the new legislation.

“Washington, D.C. is already seeing a solar boom, and it’s about to get a whole lot bigger,” said Atta Kiarash, construction manager at D.C.-based Solar Solution LLC, said in a media report.

The bill now moves to Mayor Muriel Bowser, whose track record suggests she will sign it into law. Last year, Bowser voiced support for a 50% renewable energy mandate when she signed a power purchase agreement with Iberdrola forenough wind power capacity to serve 35% of District electricity demand.

“The District of Columbia is proud to lead the nation in the utilization of affordable, green energy that creates jobs right here at home,” Bowser said in a statement. “The District is well on its way to achieving the Sustainable DC goal of using renewables to satisfy 50% of DC’s energy supply by 2032.”


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