To the editor:
What to do with several million dollars? That is the monumentally important question that confronts Oberlin’s new city council. Not many American towns and cities have to cope with such a question, certainly not in Ohio where most cities are broke or nearly broke. So where to look for guidance? Lucky for council, I have the answers!
Every penny of the money accumulated in the city’s treasury through the sale of Renewable Energy Credits, plus every penny of the $800,000 expected to be earned every year for the next several years, should be put to use to increase the wealth of the Oberlin community. The entire community. Everyone benefits!
The first wealth-creating strategy to deploy will be to invest in value-improvement projects for Oberlin homes, rental properties, commercial and industrial buildings, churches and schools, institutional and city government buildings. REC dollars will pay to expand and accelerate the good work being done by the POWER-Columbia Gas weatherization-energy efficiency program. This community wealth-creating investment will be designed to require no out-of-pocket cost to homeowners.
The lasting, even permanent, results of this community-wide investment will be increased property values, reduced electric and gas utility bills, and reduced carbon emissions.
Example, a real calculation for a real property: $2,300 cost of property improvements at no cost to the property owner; nearly $500 annual reduction in utility costs. Carbon emissions reduction to be calculated.
Of course, this proposal in its letter-to-the-editor presentation is missing many details that could be in our possession now if only city government had had the arithmetic sense and the political moxie to seek the information months ago. Time wasted! Golden opportunities imperiled! With a few bucks paid to consultants, these details can be assembled into ready-to-go form by June or July.
Then, and thereafter, the creation of community wealth through REC investments will pull more millions into Oberlin from state and federal matching funds, grants, low-interest loans, and more of all these from corporate and philanthropic sources. Every homeowner, renter, landlord, church, institution, school, and business is eligible to share in these additional multiple millions. What’s not to like?
David E. Sonner