Report Release: Distributed Solar in the District of Columbia

April 13, 2017

The District of Columbia’s aggressive support of distributed energy resources includes a 2016 Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirement that 50 percent of retail electricity sales come from renewable energy by 2032, with 5 percent coming from solar. While the District’s solar capacity has grown quickly in recent years, existing capacity falls short of its current targets. The Office of the People’s Counsel for the District of Columbia commissioned Synapse to conduct a Value of Solar study and offer recommendations regarding policies to sustainably support the development of distributed generation in the District.

Synapse is thrilled to release the resulting report this week. Distributed Solar in the District of Columbia: Policy Options, Potential, Value of Solar, and Cost-Shifting presents our analyses and recommendations regarding:

  • Barriers to distributed solar in the District;
  • Technical and economic potential for distributed generation in the District;
  • Value of solar to the utility system and electricity customers; and
  • Potential for cost-shifting from solar to non-solar customers.


We reviewed the value of solar to the utility system by considering each way that in-District solar provides benefits and costs to the utility system, including energy, generation capacity, transmission and distribution capacity, RPS compliance, price effects, system loss avoidance, risk reduction, and integration costs: all in, each kWh is worth 13.3 cents to the system. When additional society benefits are added, the value climbs to 19.4 cents.

Our report demonstrates that the value of solar to the utility system exceeds the cost, indicating that solar PV is a cost-effective electricity resource that also provides health and environmental benefits to society. Washington D.C. has substantial unrealized solar PV potential, and the declining costs and expanding solar programs are bringing solar within reach of more and more residents. Washington D.C.’s ambitious solar goals are achievable.

You can read the report here.