Everyone was standing under the shade of the trees to stay out of the scorching sun. When Tommy Wells of DC’s Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE) started speaking, groups gathered close together under tents to hear him introduce the signing of the Renewable Portfolio Energy Standard Expansion Act of 2016 (RPS), which was introduced by Councilmember Mary Cheh and was signed into law on July 25th, 2016, by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The RPS bill doubles the clean energy requirement in the District; by 2032, 50% of DC energy will be from renewables, with a 5% carve-out for solar. This requirement also includes a low-income solar program, which will benefit 100,000 families by the year 2032. “This bill represents another milestone on our Districts’ path of sustainability,” said Mayor Bowser, “The RPS enables us to increase access to solar energy to everyone regardless of income.”
The site of the RPS bill signing was in front of Mrs. York’s home, a long time DC resident who had her solar system installed by GRID Alternatives a few weeks ago. Like the solar panels on Mrs. York’s home, the RPS will bring energy savings to thousands of DC residents. “This week’s extreme heat and our volatile weather, including last week’s hail storm and this winter’s blizzard, are examples of the impacts climate change will continue to have on our city and the planet,” said DOEE Director Tommy Wells. “The Renewable Portfolio Standard bill expands the set of tools we need to address and mitigate the effects of climate change in the District and will help keep us on track to meet our Sustainable DC goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% and to ensure renewables make up at least 50% of the District’s energy supply by 2032.”
The GZEP crew joined us in the summer sun to celebrate the signing of the RPS bill. A couple of the GZEP job trainees spoke about their experience with GRID Alternatives. Kendra, a DC native who has been involved with GZEP for the past 9 years, said that “solar opened my eyes to a new perspective. I never thought I would be interested in installing solar on roofs.” A fellow job trainee, 23-year old Dominic, spoke about this opportunity to meet and work with passionate people.
The RPS bill will allow solar to reach more lives in the nation’s capital, from allowing homeowners to save money on electricity bills, to allowing youth to join a steadily growing clean jobs industry. GRID Alternatives is excited to help the Renewable Portfolio Standard become a reality over the years, making solar a staple of DC. “I want solar for everyone!” said Mayor Bowser, at the end of her speech, “Now, let’s sign the bill!”