Keep energy credits in mind at ballot

To the editor:

A major issue before city council: What to do with several million dollars earned from renewable energy credits? A bit of history is informative.

In 2008, four newly-elected council members reversed the action of the previous council that had committed the city to a 50-year contract guaranteeing continued reliance on coal-based electricity. That decision not only switched Oberlin’s dependence from coal to green sources of electricity, but also garnered the city many RECs. Three of the current candidates voted then for coal and against withdrawal from that contract.

RECs are a market-based tool for countering climate change by trading fossil fuel electricity for renewable and carbon-neutral electricity. The REC market that emerged enables Oberlin to swap high-dollar value RECs for lower-priced RECs . This keeps our electricity green while generating millions of dollars.

The city’s attorney has ruled that REC dollars belong to the city and can be spent as city council decides, including as stated in city Ordinance 07-39 AC CMS, which created the Sustainable Reserve Fund in 2007.

Oberlin’s public utilities commission has recommended to city council that most REC revenues, perhaps 85 percent, go into the Sustainable Reserve Fund to be used for local, community-based, utility-related, environmentally-friendly initiatives demonstrating energy efficiency, energy conservation, greenhouse gas reductions and/or development of green power generation sources as stated in the above ordinance and that the remainder be spent for betterment of the Oberlin community.

We need to ask ourselves: Who among the 14 candidates believes climate change must be aggressively lessened? The voter guide provides the answer in a candidate’s recommendation for use of REC dollars.

The three incumbents, who voted for coal, do not elect to aggressively address climate chaos. Ashenhurst, Burgess, Mathews, McKibben, Meadows, Pearson, Slocum, and Sokoll favor investing most REC dollars to reduce heat-trapping gases that cause climate instability, social injustice, and cost money. Think Katrina, Sandy, and California’s current drought and fires.

Please keep in mind which candidates support your wishes concerning how REC dollars can be put to work to gain the greatest benefit for Oberlin residents and beyond.

Carl McDaniel