Renewable Energy in Washington, D.C. [2024 Guide]

CleanChoice Energy employees at a rooftop solar farm
  • May 1, 2024

Recognized as a national leader in sustainability and environmental conservation, Washington, D.C. has instituted some of the most aggressive renewable energy standards in the country. As we venture into a new era of environmental responsibility and sustainability, the district's approach to renewable energy stands as an example of commitment, innovation, and determination. Here’s what you need to know about renewable energy in Washington, D.C.

Benefits of Renewable Energy in Washington, D.C.

As the District of Columbia continues to grow in population and economic development, one of the main challenges it faces is the reduction of energy use and the transition to renewable sources such as solar and wind. This need stems from the fact that energy generated from fossil fuels like oil and coal, which are primarily used to heat, cool, and power buildings, contribute to 75% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

The D.C. government's strategy to counter this challenge is laid out in the Clean Energy DC plan. This roadmap envisions meeting Washington, D.C.’s climate change goals by increasing clean energy usage. The plan specifies how the D.C. government will assist businesses, residents, and city operations in enhancing energy efficiency and expanding their access to clean and renewable energy.

Washington, D.C.'s shift towards renewable energy not only helps mitigate the impacts of climate change but also provides economic and social benefits to the community. With citywide efforts and support from both government and private entities, the District is well on its way to realizing its clean energy goals.

Washington, D.C. Energy Mix: How Much is Renewable?

As the nation's capital grapples with the realities of climate change, Washington, D.C. is striving to minimize energy consumption and adopt clean power sources like solar and wind energy. 

As of 2021, about 63% of the city's total net electricity generation came from solar energy and biomass. Notably, small-scale solar installations accounted for roughly two-fifths of all the electricity generated within D.C., proving to be a significant renewable energy resource. As of the end of 2021, there were around 10,000 solar power generation systems in the city, capable of producing about 155 megawatts.

Washington, D.C.'s aggressive renewable portfolio standard (RPS) has set an ambitious goal: by 2032, 100% of the electricity sold within the city should be generated from renewable sources. Even though most of the electricity sold in D.C. comes from nearby states, this provision ensures that renewable facilities in other states can contribute to meeting the city's renewable energy objectives.

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Solar Energy in Washington, D.C.

Given the city's environmental commitments and the recent strides in solar technology, Washington, D.C. has been actively encouraging the adoption of solar energy. The passage of the Clean Energy Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 marked a pivotal moment in this journey, positioning the District at the forefront in the fight against climate change. One of the most audacious clean energy pieces of legislation to date, the act not only increased D.C.'s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard but also carved out a path for the District to derive 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2032. Specifically, it set a target for 10% of electricity to be generated from solar energy within the District by 2041.

While the District generates nearly none of its own power due to geographical limitations, it relies heavily on solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) to meet its goals. Suppliers purchase these SRECs from solar power generators across the country, thus indirectly boosting the solar industry and supporting the wider adoption of solar power.

Washington, D.C. Renewable Energy Goals

Washington, D.C.'s commitment to renewable energy is clearly evident in its ambitious goals and legislative actions. The city's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a key tool in the pursuit of these goals. The RPS mandates that electricity suppliers meet a specified portion of their energy supply from renewable sources, thereby driving the uptake of renewable energy. 

Given the city's limited capacity to generate its own power, D.C.'s strategy has been to primarily use renewable energy credits to meet these goals. Despite the challenges, the city's aggressive renewable energy targets, combined with its ongoing initiatives and the falling costs of renewable technologies, signal a positive trajectory towards achieving these targets.

Average Electric Bill in Washington, D.C.

As of March 2024, the average monthly electricity bill in Washington, D.C. is around $155, which is lower than the U.S. national average. This relatively lower bill can be attributed to the District's energy efficiency measures and increased reliance on renewable energy sources. However, these bills can still pose a burden to some households, particularly during extreme weather conditions that demand heavy use of heating or cooling systems.

Renewable energy has the potential to further impact these bills positively. As the cost of renewable energy technologies, particularly solar, continues to decline, adopting these sources can help households reduce their reliance on grid electricity, thereby lowering their monthly bills. Moreover, programs like net metering allow residents with solar panels to sell excess electricity back to the grid, earning credits that offset their electricity costs.

Washington, D.C. Renewable Energy Incentives

There are several federal and local incentives available for adopting renewable energy in Washington, D.C. At the federal level, the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) allows homeowners to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from their federal taxes as of 2023.

At the loca level for D.C. residents, the Renewable Energy Demonstration Project provides grants to homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits for installing renewable energy systems. The Solar for All program, funded by the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), offers free solar installations to income-qualified residents. These incentives not only reduce the upfront cost of installing renewable energy systems but also help ensure the benefits of renewable energy are available to all District residents, including low-income households and communities.

How You Can Choose Renewable Energy in Washington, D.C.

CleanChoice Energy is a renewable energy supplier offering services to customers in Washington, D.C. By choosing CleanChoice Energy as their electricity supplier, residents in the Pepco service area can play a role in reducing our collective dependence on traditional, non-renewable energy sources. CleanChoice Energy is dedicated to making the switch to clean, pollution-free energy easy and accessible for customers in D.C. Learn more about how easy it is to choose cleaner energy today and be a part of the green revolution in our nation’s capital.

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