In its final meeting of the year, the city council in Washington DC unanimously gave its final approval to a bill to move the district’s entire electricity supply to renewable energy by 2032, as a doubling of the city’s current 50% by 2032 mandate. This follows a preliminary approval on November 28.
As previously reported by pv magazine, this includes a mandate that at least 5% of this electricity come from solar by 2032, and all of this must come from within the district’s boundary or from feeder lines in Maryland. In 2032 the solar portion of this mandate really gets going, and will increase in the following years until 1.68 GW of solar is installed – enough to meet around 20% of the city’s current electricity demand.
And if this were not enough, the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act sets ambitious targets for the decarbonization of fleet vehicles. As such, if this becomes law it will not only super-charge rooftop solar in the district, but electric vehicles as well.
The path to approval
From here, the bill will go to the desk of Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), who is expected to sign it. From there it will be under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress, who can veto it through a joint resolution of both houses, if supported by the president.
However, the bill has been passed in such a timeline that it will go before the 116th Congress, which convenes in January. And given that the Democratic Party will hold a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, such a veto is unlikely.
So while the ink is not yet dry, the major hurdles have been passed and DC is now on its way to a leading position in the energy transition in the United States.
Support from low-income energy advocates
GRID Alternatives, which supported the bill, notes that among other provisions, the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act increases funds to assist income-qualified residents and affordable housing providers with energy improvements, promotes energy-related workforce development initiatives, and sets in motion new building energy performance standards.
“The Clean Energy DC legislation that passed unanimously today benefits all members of our community: making D.C. a greener and healthier place to live, creating job opportunities in the growing solar industry, and lowering electricity costs for families who most need it,” noted Nicole Steele, the executive director of Grid Alternatives Mid-Atlantic.
“We need to see more cities and states across the U.S. moving full speed ahead to require 100 percent of their energy come from renewable sources like solar.”