Did you know that 95% of the electricity used in the District is generated outside of its borders? Or that our city’s total energy usage has dropped 3% annually even though we have 100,000 more residents in recent years? These are some of the factors that the DC Public Service Commission must consider as it makes decision about out city’s utility future. Chairman Betty Anne Kane visited ANC 4B’s May meeting to provide an overview of the commission’s activities and outline recent action regarding PEPCO’s proposal to upgrade a major service line.
What is the DC Public Service Commission?
The Public Service Commission of the District of Colombia, or DC PSC, is a Congressionally chartered independent agency of the DC government. Created in 1913, it regulates the electric, natural gas and telephone service for the people of the city. It oversees the operations of Washington Gas, PEPCO, Verizon and other utility service companies. There are three commissioners who are nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by the D.C. Council.
The Capital GRID Project
As we’re reported previously PEPCO is proposing to upgrade a few major transmission lines and substations in our area. Our electricity is typically generated at coal-fired power plants Maryland, windfarms in Pennsylvania, solar fields as far away as Illinois. Their work on this project on the Maryland side of Eastern Avenue has already begun.
The DC Public Service Commission received PEPCO’s application for this project a year ago. The Capital Grid Project envisions upgrading two existing Pepco substations in the District, constructing a new substation to serve the Mt. Vernon Square area and networking them together with ten miles of underground transmission cable from the Takoma Park (MD) substation.
The DC PCS is charged with evaluating the proposal. Questions that they ask include: Is the upgrade needed? If so, is this the best way to meet the need? The price tag for this project will approach $1 billion. At the end of the day, DC ratepayers are going to pay for the project. And if the decision to proceed is made, our neighborhoods will have to deal with disruption and construction headaches for a long time.
Chairman Kane visit the ANC 4B to share information about the process, but also to solicit public comment. The DC PSC asked PEPCO to submit a new application and provide more information about expected load, capacity, etc. The public and a myriad of local and federal agencies are invited to review the case information, attend the hearings or watch them online at DCPSC.org. Information on the Capital Grid application can be found here.
Mayor’s Office of the Clean City (@CleanCityDC)
Director of the Mayor’s Office of the Clean City (and neighbor and Whittier EC parent) Julie Lawson presented at the meeting to explain her office’s upcoming programs. This is an office that is being revitalized after being dormant for about ten years.
Ms. Lawson stated that the goal of her office is to work with the community to address major areas of trash control policy:
The popular Adopt-A-Block program is being jumpstarted for a new day. Any group: families, churches, schools, bands, bars or restaurants can adopt an area. The requirements are that the group:
- Adopts a at least two square blocks.
- Conducts clean-up days at least four time per year.
- Maintains the commitment for two years.
There are currently 90 active Adopt-A-Block groups. Ms. Lawson hopes to boost this number back to its historical average of approximately 350 groups. To that end, the city will remove the old (red) Adopt-A-Block signage and replace them with new, green signs. Using new technologies, the Office will be able to accurately track how much trash each group is picking up throughout the year. Those groups will be inline for recognition from the Mayor.
The office has also been able to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (this is D.C.!) with the District Department of Energy and Environment and the National Parks Service to allow community groups to be able to volunteer to clean up Fort Slocum. Fort Slocum is a litter problem area for which neighbors have sought help for many years.
Adopt-A-Stream opportunities are also available.
If your organization would like to participate in this program, site the CleanCity.DC.Gov website or call office at (202) 442-8150.
If you just want to do an ad-hoc clean up, clean up bags are now available at all DC recreation centers. The best option is to take the full bags home and put them in your own trash, but if that is not an option, you can return them to the rec center or call 311 for pickup.
The Clean City office is launching a public awareness campaign, in partnership with the Humane Rescue Alliance and other partners in the local pet care industry. Dog waste attracts rodents, makes other dogs sick, kills grass, makes our green spaces dirty and pollutes our rivers and streams.
If you know of a problem area with pet waste (a public area or a private yard), you are encouraged to call 311 and report. Pictures of the offending pet owner and area are helpful.
Learn more at CleanCity.DC.Gov.
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4A on the Move
Because of remodeling of the Douglas Development property at Eastern and Georgia Avenues in preparation for the arriving of the small-format Target Store, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4A must vacate its current office space by June 16. Consequently, ANC 4B has invited ANC4A to share its office space located at 6856 Eastern Avenue NW. The Commissions would split the cost of rent, utilities and office equipment. ANC 4B voted to approve this resolution.
Beer and Wine to Georgia Avenue Walmart?
The Georgia Avenue Wal-Mart applied for a Full-Service Grocery Class B Alcoholic beverages license. This would allow the store to sell beer and wine. Hours of alcoholic beverage sale would be 7 am to midnight, seven days a week.
Before the resolution came up for a vote, the Commission engaged in a lengthy discussion over this store’s community service record. Commissioner Snider mentioned that she had never seen a Community Service board in the store that indicates what the store does to help the neighborhood and recalled being denied assistance for a school backpack giveaway from this store. She said, “I think when you have these liquor licenses, you also have to think about the community at-large.”
The store representatives who were present, including new store manager Eric McCoy and Director of Public Affairs Jennifer Cohen, indicated that the store is indeed active in the community. They do have a community board, although it is posted near the restrooms at the front of the store. A suggestion was made that they should consider moving it to a more visible location near the front entrance. They also stated that they have contributed over $2 million in donations and in-kind services to the Ward 4 and 5 communities through their two new stores, mostly to local schools.
Mr. McCoy recounted a recent Martin Luther King Jr. Service Event where a group of store associates collected twenty large bags of litter from nearby Emery Park.
The commission voted 5-1 to support the application, with Commissioner Natalee Snider voting against due to concerns about Wal-Mart proximity to another alcohol licensee, Brightwood Liquors, which is across Georgia Avenue.
The Riggs Road Wal-Mart store is also applying for a Class B license, but Commissioner Tischa Cockrell said that the store would present its case to the Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association first.