How to spend $311,000 generated from Oberlin’s Renewable Energy Credit remains undetermined by city council.
No vote was cast last Monday but council did set aside time to discuss whether to return proceeds from REC transactions to ratepayers or create a voluntary program where customers could donate to the city’s Sustainable Reserve Fund.
“We need some more discussions on this item,” said councilwoman Kristin Peterson.
Members Elizabeth Meadows, Sharon Pearson, and Bryan Burgess agreed council was moving too fast and needs to hear from the public before deciding how the money should be used.
Residents expressed mixed views on how the money should be spent. Some thought it should be returned to taxpayers and others believed it should be put in a reserve fund to improve the community.
Resident Katie Hayes said Oberlin has enough money to help residents and businesses in need.
“We have the money to help improve homes but we’re doing nothing,” she said. “We can also open our reserve fund to businesses in town.”
Public utilities committee chair John Scofield said the money should be returned to the taxpayers, who should decide themselves whether to donate it to the reserve fund.
“We’re doing a lot today with energy efficiency but we could do more,” he said.
Greg Jones, energy advocate for Providing Oberlin With Efficiency Responsibly, said he has been in more than 200 houses in town and is constantly trying to bring them to higher energy efficiency levels.
He believes with the money already generated and the additional cash that’s produced, the city could help every home in town.
Oberlin Municipal Light and Power System director Steve Dupee predicts the city’s reserve fund will generate roughly $2.5 million by the end of 2016.
“We have an opportunity here to be greater than I think any of you all or even I anticipated when we started working on being sustainable for every home in Oberlin,” Jones said. “You can change this entire community with what you have.”
He urged council to take advantage of the cash and create the type of community that every other city will want to imitate.
Council members are expected to talk about RECs further at their next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Kristin Peterson urges fellow council members to postpone any movement on using or returning cash generated by Oberlin’s Renewable Energy Credits.