Unfurling History: The People’s Power is solidified by telling its story.

When the Office of the People’s Counsel (OPC) launched in 1975, the nation was racked by an energy crisis that produced soaring gas and electric utility rates, giving birth to the quasi-government agency. The Office of the People’s Counsel was mandated to monitor gas, electric and telephone services as the public’s utility lawyer.

During that same period, Washington, DC enjoyed the nickname “Chocolate City.”  With a Black population of more than 70 percent, the District’s policymakers realized that rate payers should be armed with an advocate to ensure safe, reliable and affordable services and OPC took its advocacy to the streets — from the civic halls, to the airwaves, to the courtroom.   

Fast forward to the 21st Century.  Utility monopolies have amassed global power. Gentrification has also transformed DC into a bastion of wealthy, white and privileged residents.  But the demand for a consumer advocate – especially representing the most underserved residents – remains constant.

People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye recognized the shifts in power and populations. She also was convinced that preserving OPC’s influence meant telling its story. Driven by that premise, Mattavous-Frye commissioned McKinney & Associates to produce a historical journal capturing highlights, strides and challenges over the 40-year life of OPC.  The 38-page report painstakingly unfurls history. Replete with vignettes and people profiles, text and images spotlight Advocacy, Education and Protection – the hallmarks of OPC.


Scheduled to be released this fall, The Power of Advocacy History Highlights looks back to chart the path to the future.