Adapting the DCSEU Model for Global Success: A Partnership with ISEP

10/02/2018

As the DCSEU begins its 7th full operating year, we look back with tremendous pride and look forward with excitement at increasing our contributions to Washington DC. To start with, what has transpired over the past 6 years is an achievement that Washington DC’s legislators, government officials, energy businesses and civil society should be proud of. It was their progressive leadership that led to the establishment of the DCSEU. In 2017 alone, $20 million of rate payer funds led to over $144 million in lifetime savings for DC residents, businesses and institutions. Over $3.8 million were invested in the cities most vulnerable communities, resulting in more than $820,000 in annual energy cost savings to these communities. Eighty-four green jobs created at the city's living wage, and one year of these and other DCSEU efforts combined led to 962,000 tons of carbon emissions prevented - the equivalent emitted by the consumption of 98 million gallons of gasoline.

These remarkable results have not gone unnoticed by experts, industry observers, and other stakeholders outside of the District. The DCSEU has been a regular featured in international discussions about energy sustainability and has been invited to present to experts and delegations from the World Bank, the European Union, Denmark, India, China, Saudi Arabia, Colombia and Taiwan among others. In all these presentations, the discussion inevitably leads to the queries on whether the DCSEU model can be adapted to other places globally and especially for developing country conditions to help them meet their sustainable development goals (SDGs) and consequently help meet global climate change goals. There are many reasons why intuitively it makes perfect sense that the DCSEU model, with its triple bottomline focus could be a great platform to help reach these goals. The slowing pace of utility regulatory reform, the rapid decrease in distributed generation costs, increasing need for job creation and the fast growth of new building stock, all indicate that SEUs can help deliver economic, social and environmental benefits in the developing world. To try to understand the applicability of the DCSEU model we have embarked on a partnership with the Institute of Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP) at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a leading international affairs policy in Washington DC.

As a first step, I was invited to talk about the DCSEU’s origins, institutional setup and performance to a mixed audience consisting of students, faculty and independent experts. We were delighted to be co-presenting along with Megan Meyer, Energy Specialist at the World Bank who spoke about the challenges and opportunities in implementing energy sustainability in the developing world. There were some very insightful comments from the audience about how the DCSEU model may be adapted to the overcome the barriers and challenges identified. The entire occasion served as a wonderful prelude to the launch of a research project by SAIS students that will look in to these very questions. The research project, being undertaken by 4 graduate students as part of their year-long practicum, will aim at (a) understanding the drivers of success of the DCSEU model, (b) finding a city in the developing world that shares similar characteristics in which the model can be applied, (c) evaluating the impact of potential implementing the SEU model in the identified city and (d) analyzing different models for funding, governance and stakeholder management. DCSEU staff and ISEP experts will be there along the way providing guidance where necessary. Like all our programs and initiatives, the team at DCSEU takes immense pride in all that we do on behalf of our constituents and here too we are excited about partnering with a local institution like SAIS to help them in the global mission. Stay tuned for more updates on their findings!

This post was written by Anmol Vanamali, Financing Strategies Director at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC).

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