Petititions Circulate to Preserve REC Fund

John Elder, OC '53

To the Editors:

In May 2007, the Oberlin City Council voted unanimously to establish a Sustainable Reserve Program funded by the revenue from selling renewable energy credits. This week, former Oberlin City Councilors, business owners and other respected Oberlinians are starting to circulate a pair of petitions that, together, will enable the voters to preserve funding for that program. I urge students, staff and faculty who vote in Oberlin to sign these two petitions.

Why do this now? The Ohio legislature has been cutting income for the city’s general fund. The Trump administration is slashing the EPA budget. We can’t expect any federal or state support for local sustainability efforts, but thanks to 2007’s City Council, the city has the funds to undertake long-term, large-scale energy-saving programs that benefit the whole community. We need to do this to achieve Oberlin’s Climate Action Plan goals.

Last month, City Council passed a “Community Choice Fund” ordinance that has a fatal flaw: It requires that 85 percent of the RECs’ income be diverted from the Sustainable Reserve Fund to electric rate-payers, with the bulk of the money going to big entities such as Walmart. By artificially reducing electric bills, this would disincentivize energy efficiency — just the opposite of what the Sustainable Reserve Fund is intended to accomplish. And it would leave substantially less money for programs such as Providing Oberlin with Efficiency Responsibly to help low- and moderate-income households and small businesses.

One petition puts this flawed Community Choice Fund ordinance “on hold” until the November election. The other petition makes clear what we know the 2007 City Council intended. The original ordinance reads simply “the revenue.” The amended ordinance will read “all net revenue.” Add your signature and put these two issues to a vote on Nov. 7.

– John Elder
OC ’53
Member of Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy