REC rebate is not equitable


To the editor:

It appears from your recent article on Renewable Energy Credits that the city council will soon vote to rebate customers for the “extra $1.8 million” customers paid in their electric bills between 2012 and last year. Councilwoman Sharon Soucy “argued they were morally obligated to (rebate) because customers were overcharged.” But it appears that this rebate will only be used to cushion rate increases in the future. To me, this is an unfair way to do a rebate. (And what happens to our rates when the cushion is gone?)

Consider this example of four customers: Tom, Dick, Harry, and Quincy. Tom paid $1,500 annually for his electricity for the years he was overcharged. Dick paid $750 annually, Harry has just moved into Oberlin, and Quincy just moved out of town. So Tom “contributed” twice as much to the extra $1.8 million than Dick did, and of course Harry “contributed” nothing.

Now is it fair that Harry gets to enjoy the savings that Tom and Dick provided by their payments? Furthermore, is it fair that Tom only gets the same rebate in effect that Dick gets? I wonder how Quincy will enjoy the new Oberlin electric rates that he helped reduce thanks to his “contributions.”

If council really wants to return all this money to customers, then surely it can come up with a plan that is fair to all. Each customer should receive an amount that is proportional to the amount that they were overcharged. Anything other than this equitable redistribution of funds principle is to my mind morally objectionable.

Kevin Weidenbaum

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