Choosing REC option was difficult

To the editor:

Thanks to leadership from our electric director and a commitment to sustainability by this and past councils, Oberlin finds itself with $2.6 million dollars from the sale of Renewable Energy Credits. For this, the city should feel justifiably proud.

The city administration and the electric director felt that most of those monies should be returned to the ratepayers to lower their costs and as a protection against a predicted 15 percent rise in energy bills as well as the coming addition of a storm water utility.

I agree with this position.

Members of council and the community fell into two groups: those agreeing that most of the money should be returned to ratepayers and those who believed the money should be held by the city for projects that would support sustainability.

Both sides have been vocal in support of their positions. Unfortunately, a few members of council and the community have indulged in intemperate accusations and name-calling during the debate.

The majority of council voted in support of the original plan to return a credit on electric bills to customers throughout the city, whether they be renters or homeowners or small businesses or larger institutions such as Oberlin College. Fifteen percent of those funds would be held by the city for projects funded by our sustainability fund. That fund would grow to well over half a million dollars.

Ratepayers would be given the option of returning all or a portion of their credit to the city for projects addressing sustainability. This element of democracy, allowing residents to choose whether to keep or return their credit was extremely important to me and the majority of council.

This seems like an ideal compromise that both respects the rights of our ratepayers and allows for short- and long-term investment in sustainability goals.

These decisions are difficult because opinions are heartfelt and genuinely held. But as council members we all have an obligation to move ahead without rancor, respecting the choices of our ratepayers and developing projects that turn these dollars into environmental benefits for our town.

Sharon Fairchild Soucy