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The U.S. Department of Energy and the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center are excited to announce that a new, modernized DSIRE is under construction. The new version of DSIRE will offer significant improvements over the current version, including expanded data accessibility and an array of new tools for site users. The new DSIRE site will be available in December 2014. Staff are currently working hard on the new version of DSIRE but are also maintaining the content of the current version of DSIRE. Thank you for your continued support and patience during this transition. We hope you are as excited for December as we are!

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District of Columbia

District of Columbia

Incentives/Policies for Renewables & Efficiency

Printable Version
Sustainable Energy Trust Fund   

Last DSIRE Review: 10/27/2014
Program Overview:
State: District of Columbia
Incentive Type: Public Benefits Fund
Eligible Efficiency Technologies: Unspecified Technologies
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Biomass, Geothermal Electric, Anaerobic Digestion
Applicable Sectors: Commercial, Industrial, Residential, General Public/Consumer, Utility, Institutional
Types:Energy efficiency, low-income assistance, renewables
Total Fund:$7.5 million in 2009
$15 million in 2010
$17.5 million in 2011
$20 million in 2012 and each subsequent year
Charge:Non-bypassable surcharge based on kWh use
Web Site:
Authority 1:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
DC Code § 8-1773.01 § 8-1774.01 et seq.
10/06/2008 (subsequently amended)

The District of Columbia's Retail Electric Competition and Consumer Protection Act of 1999 required the DC Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish a public benefits fund to provide energy assistance to low-income residents, and to support energy-efficiency programs and renewable-energy programs. This fund, known as the Reliable Energy Trust Fund (RETF), took effect in 2001. In October 2008, the District of Columbia enacted the Clean and Affordable Energy Act (CAEA), which effectively eliminated the RETF and replaced it with the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF). This program will be administered by a third-party “Sustainable Energy Utility” (SEU) which will be selected to develop, coordinate, and provide programs for the purpose of promoting the sustainable use of energy in the District of Columbia.

The SETF is financed by a non-bypassable surcharge on the electric and natural gas bills of utility customers who are not Residential Aid Discount (RAD) or Residential Essential Service (RES) customers. The surcharge for natural gas customers is calculated on a per therm basis and is assessed at $0.011 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, $0.012 in FY 2010, and $0.014 in FY 2012 and each subsequent year. The surcharge for electric customers is calculated on a per-kilowatt-hour basis and is assessed at $0.0011 in FY 2009, $0.0013 in FY 2010 and $0.0015 in FY 2011 and each subsequent year. The October 2008 legislation also established a separate Energy Assistance Trust Fund (EATF). The EATF collects a surcharge of $0.006/therm from natural gas sales. It collects $0.0000607/kWh from electric sales in general, plus an additional assessment $0.00069/kWh for June - September 2010. Electricity collections were formerly set at $0.0004/kWh, but the law regarding the EATF surcharge was amended in 2010.

In the past, the RETF program supported weatherization measures; appliance replacements for low-income residents; RAD extension; LIHEAP expansion and education; energy efficiency for small businesses, institutions and non profits; ENERGY STAR appliance and lighting rebates, home energy ratings and loan promotions, public education and outreach, distributed generation and net metering; and renewable-energy demonstration projects. The program website listed at the top of this page contains a detailed history of the RETF/SETF.

Per DC Code § 8-1774.01, the Mayor, through the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), is charged to contract with a Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) to conduct sustainable energy programs on behalf of DC. In March of 2011, the SEU contract, which is designed to administer sustainable energy programs in the District, was awarded by the DC Council to Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), a non-profit organization. VEIC has partnered with dozens of local organizations to implement the program, with VEIC principally responsible for program-design and management. In the first year of the contract, VEIC is required to implement energy-saving measures in low-income multifamily homes, to arrange for energy-saving installations in commercial buildings, and to create green jobs, among many other initiatives. VEIC operates a similar program in Vermont and also has helped set up programs in Oregon, Delaware, and Maine. An annual independent review of the performance of the SEU is to be conducted beginning in FY2012,  under § 8-1774.05(k) of the D.C. Code.

This SETF is projected to eventually amount to about $20 million a year, plus any money from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Specific annual funding levels are set for existing electricity programs, temporary electricity programs, existing natural gas programs, renewable energy incentives, and energy efficiency programs (administered by PEPCO). Like the RETF that it replaced, unused SETF funding will carry over to the following year rather than lapsing at the end of the fiscal year. As amended, the EATF is expected to collect $2.3 million annually for existing low-income assistance programs and $5.2 million in 2010 for a new Residential Aid discount subsidy. Related PSC documents are available at the web site listed above, or in the E-docket Section of the PSC website under Formal Case (FC) 945.


District Department of the Environment
Energy Division
1200 1st Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 535-2600
Fax: (202) 535-2881
Web Site:
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Disclaimer: The information presented on the DSIRE web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided below each summary to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.

While the DSIRE staff strives to provide the best information possible, the DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. The DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. disclaim all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on DSIRE Web pages.

Copyright 2014 - 2015 North Carolina State University, under NREL Subcontract No. XEU-0-99515-01. Permission granted only for personal or educational use, or for use by or on behalf of the U.S. government. North Carolina State University prohibits the unauthorized display, reproduction, sale, and/or distribution of all or portions of the content of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) without prior, written consent.