While more people live in Washington, D.C., than Wyoming, it’s not technically a state. Residents are represented by one U.S. house member who doesn’t have voting rights and have no representation in the senate. They weren’t allowed to vote in presidential elections until 1961.
The district is governed by a mayor and a 13-member city council, which can be vetoed by the United States Congress if need be.
Despite all of these anomalies, the district has a more aggressive incentive package for photovoltaic solar installations and energy efficiency improvements than many of the country’s “real” states. Net metering in the district is also far ahead of most "states".
And, really, it makes sense. The world looks to Washington, D.C. The district is meant to demonstrate America’s priorities. It’s home to the biannual solar decathlon, a solar home competition. It’s the stage for hot debates about old energy versus new clean energy solutions to climate change.
Washington, D.C., is also the site of the country’s most important house—the White House, where the president lives and works.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter sent a message to the American people by installing solar thermal panels on the roof of the White House. He meant to convey to the public that solar was a viable alternative energy source, accessible to the public.
“A generation from now,” Carter said in his dedication speech about the panels, “this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken—or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”
It turns out that the panels were more an “example of the road not taken” than anything else.
President Richard Reagan removed them and stuck them deep in a dark storage shed, from which they were unearthed almost 20 years later.
Fast-forward to 2010, and the most important house in the district and the country will get a new set of solar panels.
President Barrack Obama announced in September that he would install photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the White House. That announcement speaks to the viability of solar power and is accompanied by a slew of federal incentives to “go green,” which have been complimented by various state programs.
The great municipality on the Potomac may not be leading the nation in energy incentives, but it’s certainly holding its own. Here are a few of the available incentives.