DC has pledged that newly constructed buildings won’t use gas and that DC government buildings will start to replace gas-burning heating systems with efficient electric heat pumps.
But the gas company, Washington Gas, has other ideas, and DC regulators appear to be ready to let the company violate DC’s statutory climate commitments. Washington Gas is asking the Public Service Commission, which regulates utility companies, to approve a series of wasteful spending proposals called “Project Pipes,” which would charge DC residents $5 billion to replace fossil fuel distribution pipelines—despite DC’s commitment to phase out fossil fuels over the next two decades. The Public Service Commission is required under a 2018 law to uphold DC’s climate commitments, but so far the commissioners have ignored that legal mandate.
The multibillion dollar cost of Project Pipes is paid for by gas ratepayers. If a household transitions to efficient electric systems and stops burning gas, that household is off the hook and will pay zero dollars of the $5 billion Washington Gas is seeking. DC families need to transition off gas to protect themselves from the skyrocketing costs of fossil fuel infrastructure. Low- and moderate-income DC households should be first in line to transition off the gas system so they are not forced to pay for Washington Gas’s dirty energy profiteering.