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Archive for February, 2011


Come Support the District’s Next Solar Bill on March 2nd!

Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 06:48:26 PM EST

Why should I join other climate activists and District residents on March 2nd?

Our planet, country and communities are in crisis. The limited progress we have made in the last decade to reduce our countries carbon emissions and fight global warming is in danger of disappearing as budget shortfalls and changing priorities dismantle and weaken efforts to create jobs, promote energy efficiency and increase the amount of renewable, clean energy available in our communities.

In the District of Columbia we are poised on the precipice of progress. Thanks to organizations like the Institute for Market Transformation, Cool Capital Challenge, Friends of the Earth, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Sierra Club and Mt. Pleasant Solar Coop (and many others)  we have created numerous programs and policies, like the Sustainable Energy Utility, that will give us the tools to start creating jobs and reducing carbon emissions.

Even with these first steps we are having trouble maintaining adequate financial support and momentum to keep these programs and policies strong and make sure we are doing our part to save the planet. That’s why the DC Environmental Network wants to invite you to take an easy first step to start working towards enjoying the benefits of the work we have all participated in the last decade.

Join us on March 2nd to support the DC Solar bill!

Please consider joining us to show support for the “Distributed Generation  Amendment Act of 2011” at a Public Hearing March 2nd at 2:00 PM at the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Room 123). (Come listen to the numerous organizations and activists that will be expressing support and suggesting ways to strengthen this bill.)

This important bill was introduced by Councilmember Mary Cheh and Co-Sponsored by Councilmembers Yvette Alexander, Tommy Wells, Michael Brown, Phil Mendelson and Harry Thomas. This bill sets a framework and goals for the District that will ensure the development of a robust solar community; creating jobs, providing a price hedge against rising energy costs, strengthening the local transmission grid, and producing significant localized environmental benefits.

Bill 19-10 would reduce the load on the District’s distribution grid by increasing the amount of solar energy used in DC. This vital piece of legislation would increase the solar carve-out of the existing Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) from 0.4% to 2.5% by 2020. It would also require utility companies to purchase solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) from systems located within the District or served by the District’s distribution grid only. Without an impact on taxes or the budget, this bill will help make solar affordable and economical to all Washingtonians!

Some of the more specific benefits of this legislation:

Revenue & Job Creation: Increasing the solar RPS to 2.5% alone will generate approximately $70 million in sales tax revenue and ore than $12 million in income tax revenue over the next 9 years. What’s more is that the proliferation of solar across the city is achievable for less than $1 a month and about $0.75 per month per residential ratepayer in the District and increasing thereafter to no more than $5.50. Over the next 12 months, over 50% of solar firms expect to add jobs if business is stable or improves. Increasing the solar RPS requirements will create another 2,000 green jobs in the District over the next 9 years. The solar industry is a proven economic catalyst, and the local solar market has grown 40% over the last 2 years, primarily due to DC’s RPS.

Clarify Preference for In-state Production: Currently, the District’s RPS has a preference for in-state solar production, but has no means to enforce this preference. The result is a market overwhelmingly composed of SRECs produced from systems outside of the District and as far away as Illinois. This legislation will clarify the language by requiring solar facilities that are eligible to meet D.C.’s Solar Renewable Portfolio Standard to be located on the distribution grid that serves the District. This will directly benefit the ratepayers and residents of D.C., strengthen the stability of the District’s distribution grid, and provide individuals and businesses within the District with the option to purchase affordable solar systems.

Environmental Benefits: Expanding the solar RPS will also ensure that the District leads the nation’s efforts to create green sustainable urban communities. The proposed changes will decrease the overall percentage of emission producing fuel sources that the District relies on for energy production, saving as much as 1 million tons of CO2 over the next 9 years, the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road.

You can learn more about the legislation by watching a presentation by solar industry expert Mike Healy and read a recent blog post on the bill.
This legislation is what is on the table today. Participating in this hearing, even for just an hour, can help us by:
  • Conveying strong support for the “Distributed Generation Amendment Act of 2011”;
  • Helping the Council understand the connection between a strong economy and a healthy environment;
  • Letting the Council know that even during challenging economic times District citizens want to make progress reducing carbon emissions (this will be particulary important as the District of Columbia is struggling with a $400 million dollar budget gap and important environmental programs are threatened);
  • and educating ourselves about how this legislation can be an important next step.
We are all in this together! Hope you can attend!
DATE: Wednesday, March 2, 2011
TIME: 2:00 PM
PLACE: John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Room 123, Near Metro Center Metro Station.
For more information contact Chris Weiss at 202-518-8782.

Wal-Mart: Respect District Environmental Laws!

Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 11:25:00 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Director, DC Environmental Network

Chairman Brown talks to Living Wages, Healthy Communities Coalition

On February 7th, join the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) in asking your City Council-members to demand that Wal-Mart sign an enforceable Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) guaranteeing that it will protect our environment, treat its workers with dignity, provide full-time living wage jobs with good benefits, and help our neighborhoods improve their economic standing and quality of life.


The DC Environmental Network is particularly interested in Wal-Mart respecting the current direction of existing environmental standards in the District that can help mitigate the impact multiple stores can have on our local environment. Our environmental asks include:

  • Wal-Mart shall commit to the District’s Green Building Act requirements that go into effect for private developments in 2012;
  • Wal-Mart shall commit to matching stormwater retention standards for Federal buildings in the District of Columbia, through use of green infrastructure techniques to help clean up area rivers and creeks;
  • Wal-Mart shall commit to responsible traffic alleviation studies and measures that promote walkability and increase the quality of life for residents;
  • Wal-Mart shall commit to working closely with the District Department of the Environment and the Sustainable Energy Utility to develop a climate action plan for District of Columbia stores that is worthy of our nation’s capital city and its communities.

Let me know if you would like to participate in our Community Advocacy Day!  Contact me at or call 202-421-7319. See additional details below!