District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility

DC SEU, Washington DC

Since March 2011, alongside the District Department of Environment, PEER has assisted in the development of the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU).  PEER’s role is to provide leadership for community engagement strategy and implementation, key assistance with policy development, and analysis/planning functions for the DC SEU. The goal of the DC SEU is to reduce per capita energy consumption, increase renewable energy generating capacity, reduce growth of peak electricity energy demand, improve the efficiency of low-housing, reduce the growth of energy demand of the largest energy users and increase the number of green-collar jobs in DC. 

In 2013, DC SEU continues to work on a full range of energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives to serve the homeowners, renters, businesses, institutions and communities of the District. The DC SEU, as well as its teaming partner, PEER, believes that “there is no more effective vehicle than sustainable energy to stimulate local employment, economic development, energy security, and environmental progress.” (DC SEU ‘2012 Highlights’ Report).

Under the DC SEU contract, PEER staff also worked on the Providence Hospital Lighting Project in Washington DC. Providence Hospital requested our assistance in improving their existing outdoor lighting (Parking Garage Ground Level & Multi Level Parking, Building Periphery) conditions. The entire campus had issues with different voltage levels within the same parking lot area, code compliance issues, inefficient lighting levels, dysfunctional day light sensors, high energy costs & maintenance costs. The issue of low lighting levels was of major concern due to security and safety reasons, while the cost of energy was impacting their overall operations costs.

The team was able to address these concerns by proposing the installation of energy-efficient LED fixtures throughout the identified areas. During the course of the project all voltage levels were standardized to either 120/220 Volts, which are beneficial for optimal LED lamp operation. The cost of maintenance of these lamps/fixtures would be considerably reduced due to the high lamp life. The day light sensors were replaced so that new LED fixtures turn on only when there is reduced day-light available hence reducing the operation time of the new installed fixtures. But most importantly LED fixtures have improved the lighting levels and hence addressed their low level lighting issues, addressed their security concerns due to low light levels and reduced their energy bills (operating costs).

2015 Highlights (DCSEU Annual Report, 2015):

  1. Largest low-income solar program on East Coast, installed 137 solar systems (30% of all solar installed in District for 2015), 7.5 kW on single family homes and small business establishments.  Households and businesses experienced annual average energy savings of $667.00.
  2. $5.7 million invested in energy efficiency for low-income residents
  3. $5.6 million invested working with 28 District Certified Business Enterprises
  4. Saved enough energy to power an additional 6,800 homes in DC for a year.
  5. Performed 240 projects with commercial and institutional customers; spent $11 million in energy efficiency improvements and saved/reduced 56,764 MWh of energy, enough to power Wilson Building for 9 years.
  6. Created 185, 250 green-job hours required to implement projects financed by DCSEU
  7. Met all DC required benchmarks, and invested in total $18.6 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts in the District and realized $2.6 million in annual energy savings, and $92.6 million in lifetime energy savings for ratepayers in the District.

The Clean and Affordable Energy Act specifically required the DCSEU to pay particular attention to working with the largest energy users in the District and work with them to help them reduce their energy burdens. In response to that requirement, the DCSEU gave PEER the responsibility of identifying the largest energy users in the city and identify the amount of gas and electricity they used annually and the energy use trends for the past 3 years to 5 years and projected for the next 5 years to 10 years.  DC Water was identified as one of the top five single energy users in the District.  Because PEER has worked with the DC Water for the past 30 years, the DCSEU ask PEER to engage DC Water and work with them closely an ensure that the DCSEU is provide support to the DC Water as they move forward in becoming one of the most energy efficient water and wastewater utilities in the world.  DC Water is the largest advanced wastewater treatment plant in the world.