What we have here is a failure to report solar production data – pv magazine USA

Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine filed a lawsuit against utility PEPCO for general incompetence in running the community solar program, focusing on additional hardware requirements and failure to properly meter and offset generation of solar electricity.

The Washington DC Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the local electric utility, PEPCO-owned Exelon, for failing to “provide promised solar credits to low-income households and undermine[ing] the district’s efforts to achieve clean energy goals.

AG Root Press release lists five general complaints:

  • Not providing promised discounts on energy bills
  • Harming low-income DC residents
  • Failing to Pay DOEE and Other Community Solar Generating Facility Owners
  • Underestimation of generated solar energy
  • Damage to the District’s ability to achieve its climate goals

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

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

Not only did the utility incorrectly credit power buyers, it also underpaid solar asset owners.

The hurt was compounded by the fact that PEPCO not only got in the way of billing, but they did so after taxing the solar contractor by requiring a completely useless utility controller meter to work in concert with the meter at required income from the community solar program.

This meter takes longer to install for the contractor, then later for the utility (sometimes several months, due to the slow and steady industrial monopoly model), it is also thousands of dollars in material and labor -work to install said additional meter.

Example of two meters, residential solar installation, meters in red

Image: Adam Gent, Whaling City Solar

The complaint notes that the commercial-grade electricity meter, under Public Utilities Commission guidelines, is supposed to drive billing. In other words, PEPCO’s meter is not needed for the community solar program. If PEPCO improperly used its utility-owned meters to generate billing, it is against the law.

By annual filings, in 2019, Washington DC’s Solar For All community solar program added 7 MW of capacity and signed 8,600 accounts. In 2020, 10 MW of additional capacity was installed, to serve more than 4,000 community solar subscribers. The group expected 12MW of capacity to be installed in 2021, benefiting 3,400 newly signed customers.

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

In related news, Exelon settled a federal corruption case for 200 million US dollars after discovering that bribes, jobs, contracts, and other financial benefits were being given to former staffers of Illinois state politicians.

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

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