What we have here is a failure to communicate solar generation data

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The Attorney General of Washington DC has filed a complaint against local electricity utility, Exelon owned PEPCO, for failing to “provide promised solar credits to low-income households & undermin[ing] the District’s efforts to meet Clean Energy Goals.”

AG Racine’s press release lists five general complaints:

  • Failing to provide promised discounts on energy bills
  • Harming low-income DC residents
  • Failing to pay DOEE and other owners of community solar generation facilities
  • Undercounting solar energy that is being generated
  • Undermining the District’s ability to reach its climate goals

In the complaint, there are recurring references to PEPCO’s requirements for extra hardware – in the form of an electricity meter and its supporting gear. Even with this extra meter, PEPCO routinely under-credited (and occasionally over-credited) project owners and electricity buyers.

The filing states that in June and July of 2020 alone, 1,683 subscribers were under-credited by $50,640.99, and 160 accounts were over-credited by $2,322.20. The chart below references at least 4,934 of these instances, with a minimum dollar amount of $138,376.51 over a 16 month period.

Not only did the utility incorrectly credit buyers of the electricity, they also underpaid solar asset owners.

The wound was salted by the fact that not only did PEPCO miff the billing, they did after they’d hardware taxed the solar contractor by requiring a completely unnecessary utility controller meter to run in concert with the community solar program’s required revenue-grade meter.

This meter takes additional time to install for the contractor and then later the utility, (sometimes several months, due to the slow and steady monopoly industry model), it’s also thousands of dollars in supporting hardware and labor to install said additional meter.

Two meter example, residential solar installation, meters in red

Image: Adam Gent, Whaling City Solar

The complaint notes that the revenue grade electricity meter, per the Public Utility Commission’s direction, is supposed to drive billing. In other words, PEPCO’s meter is not needed for the community solar program. If PEPCO has improperly used their utility owned meters to drive billing, that is in violation of law.

Per annual filings, in 2019, the Washington DC’s Solar For All Community Solar Program added 7MW of capacity and signed 8,600 accounts. In 2020, 10MW of additional capacity was installed, to serve over 4,000 community solar sign ups. The group projected that 12MW of capacity would be installed in 2021, benefitting 3,400 newly signed customers.

SEIA suggests 174MW of capacity has been installed in the district.

In related news, Exelon settled a federal bribery case for $200M USD after it was found that bribes, jobs, contracts, and other financial benefits were given to former staffers of State of Illinois politicians.

Recently, Exelon’s Illinois nuclear power plants received $694 million to keep its four reactor sites online for five more years, while the state has moved forward on an initially successful successor solar program as part of its recent clean energy legislation.

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