The OPC CONNECTION - November 2017


A Note from Your People's Counsel

In case you missed it, OPC recently released its annual report linked here, and the theme of the report is “Community Engagement – A Pipeline to Power.” The phrase is in line with my assurance that consumers will always have a place at the table in proceedings affecting their utility rates and service. The proposed WGL Holdings-AltaGas merger is no exception.

OPC has hosted a series of community briefings to engage consumers and explain the nuts and bolts of the merger that is pending before the DC Public Service Commission (DCPSC). For example, during briefings for residents of ANC7B in Ward 7, and the DC Federation of Civic Associations, OPC attorneys laid out why OPC is urging the Commission to reject the merger application as filed because DC consumers will not receive long-term, tangible and meaningful benefits, nor adequate protections against harm if it is approved.

OPC also urges DC residents to testify at DCPSC community hearings taking place on November 27, 28, 29 and 30. Click here to see the locations. Your input will be critical to whether or not the Commission approves the merger. By sharing important information about merger cases and numerous other topics, and engaging communities in all eight wards, the Office of the People’s Counsel is empowering consumers to a brighter utility future.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Assistant People’s Counsel Arick Sears discusses the proposed WGL-AltaGas merger at a briefing OPC hosted to outline the changes in natural gas service Washington Gas customers might experience if the merger is approved.

OPC is pleased with the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia’s recent approval of the Pepco and the District Department of Transportation’s (“DDOT”) joint Biennial Plan and Financing Application.

​As a result of these approvals, Pepco and DDOT can now move forward in early 2018 with the undergrounding of the District’s poorest preforming overhead primary and lateral power lines in Wards 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8—which will significantly storm harden and improve the resiliency of Pepco’s distribution system. OPC has worked tirelessly since 2012 with other District stakeholders to make DC PLUG a reality for District ratepayers and consumers.

The winter heating season is here. Prepare now for low temperatures and higher heating bills. Here are several ways to lower your heating costs:

  • First, get an Energy Audit through the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) todetermine corrective energy efficiency savings measures. Call 311 to be connected to the DCSEU.
  • Have a licensed contractor or qualified technician check your heating system, hot water heater, water pipes and ducts.
  • Use insulation kits to wrap the water heater and hot water pipe leading from the tank.
  • Caulk around windows and use weather stripping around doors.
  • If you have storm windows, check for proper fit of glass and frames. Plastic storm window kits are available at hardware stores.
  • Lower your thermostat setting when you are away from home or asleep. Consider installing a programmable thermostat that will adjust temperatures automatically.
  • If you have radiators, release trapped air through bleeder valves to improve their efficiency. Clean and remove any material from radiators that will reduce efficiency.
  • Fix dripping faucets.
  • When possible, insulate your home's sidewalls and attic.
  • Consider installing heavy or insulated curtains or drapes at windows.
  • Turn off the inside water bib, leaving the outside faucet open to allow water drainage and minimize possibility of those pipes freezing.

The Lifeline Program provides a discount on telecommunications services of $9.25 per month for eligible low-income consumers. Consumers may receive a the discount on either cellular or landline service, but not both.

You can qualify for the Lifeline discount by proving your income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty line or with proof of participation in one of the following programs: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8), or Veterans or Survivors Pension Benefit programs.

Only one member per household may receive the Lifeline discount.

To learn more about the Lifeline Program, call OPC or click here.

Apply for the discount by calling DC Lifeline at 800.253.0846.

Catholic Charities is the largest private social service organization in the Washington, DC area. Their mission is "to strengthen the lives of those in need by giving help that empowers and hope that lasts."

Catholic Charities provides a wide variety of services to the community including:

  • legal assistance
  • food assistance Meals
  • employment and adult education services
  • housing and shelter program assistance
  • healthcare assistance
  • immigration and refugee services

More information can be found on their website by clicking here.

OPC is advocating for consumers in the following cases before the PSC:

Formal Case No. 1142 – The Merger of AltaGas & Washington Gas Holdings, Inc.

In April 2017, the Commission opened a proceeding to review the proposed merger of AltaGas, Ltd. of Canada and WGL Holdings, Inc., as to whether the proposed merger would be in the public interest.

  • On October 24, OPC sent a letter to the PSC requesting two community hearings following the evidentiary hearings beginning on December 5.
  • On October 27, OPC filed rebuttal testimony and supporting exhibits in this matter.

RM27-2017-01 – The Commission’s Investigation into the Rules Governing Local Exchange Carrier Quality of Service Standards for the District

In January 2017, the Commission proposed amendments that would impose new requirements on telecommunications service providers reporting telecommunications service outages.

  • On October 14, OPC filed Comments in Response to a Notice of Second Proposed Rulemaking. OPC filed reply comments in the matter on October 30.

Formal Case No. 1050 & RM402017-01 – Investigation of the Interconnection Standard in the District of Columbia & the 15 DCMR Chapter 40 – D.C. Small Generator Interconnection Rates

In February 2017, the Commission gave notice that it intends to amend its rules governing net energy metering in the District of Columbia.

  • On October 23, OPC filed a Motion for Enlargement of Time to Submit Comments regarding the October 6, 2017, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. OPC filed an Amended Motion on October 25.

Formal Case No. 1027, GT97-3 & GT06-1 - Emergency Petition of the Office of the People's Counsel for an Expedited Investigation of the Distribution System of Washington Gas Light Company. (PROJECTpipes) The Application of Washington Gas Light Company, District of Columbia Division, for Authority to Amend its Tariff. The Application of Washington Gas Light Company for Authority to Amend its General Service Provision No. 23

PROJECTpipes is the first five-year increment of a 40-year program to replace Washington Gas’s (WGL) aging gas pipeline infrastructure, with the first phase scheduled to expire in 2019. In approving the first phase, the Commission required WGL to file an Annual Project List describing the pipe replacement projects for which the Company will seek cost recovery each year and estimates each project’s cost.

  • On October 24, OPC filed Comments regarding WGL's Response to Commission Order No. 19101.
  • On October 30, OPC filed Comments regarding WGL's Final Reconciliation.

OPC will be out at the following events:

Energy Efficiency Workshop @ The Spring Valley
Wesley Heights Citizens Association
4430 Newark St., NW
Wed., December 6 th
7:30 pm

ANC 6D Meeting
1100 4 th Street, SW, 2nd Floor
Mon., December 11 th
7:00 - 9:00 pm

Energy Efficiency Workshop @ Perry School
128 M St., NW
Mon., December 11 th
4:30 pm-5:30 pm

Mayor's 2017 Senior Holiday Celebration
DC Armory
Wed., December 13 th
8:00 am-12:00 pm

Energy Efficiency Workshop @ Health Services for
Children with Special Needs, Inc.
2124 MLK Jr., Ave., SE
Wed., December 13 th
6:00 pm-8:00 pm