Steps to a more equitable and sustainable community

To the editor:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began his 1965 Oberlin College commencement address, “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution,” with the story of Rip Van Winkle falling asleep under a signboard picturing King George III. When Rip awoke 20 years later, George Washington’s face was on the sign. Rip “was completely lost.” Dr. King said, “There are all too many people who, in some great period of social change, fail to achieve the new mental outlooks that the new situation demands.”

We are far from achieving King’s goals of global mutuality, racial and economic justice, and elimination of violence as a way to solve problems. But being awake, said King, means recognizing the great ills of our society and working “passionately and unrelentingly” to get rid of them.

In that speech Dr. King warned that we must end the threat of nuclear war: “the alternative may well be civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation.” Since his speech we have come to recognize another profound social ill. We must overcome the threat of climate change caused primarily by burning fossil fuels or face the same alternative.

Oberlin has a unique opportunity to be proactive in regard to climate change. By taking full advantage of our Renewable Energy Certificate revenue, we can become a more equitable and sustainable community. First we must strengthen our city’s Sustainable Reserve Program by passing an amended SRP ordinance that will lead to:

• Most REC revenue funding programs directed to all ratepayers to achieve long-term energy savings.

• Encouraging energy audits by an annual credit of $100 on the utility bill of customers who have an audit.

• A revolving loan fund for customer energy efficiency upgrades.

• A sustainable improvement program for upgrades not related to electricity.

This week a committee composed of Heather Adelman, Elizabeth Meadows, Jessa New, Charles Peterson, and myself filed an initiative to put the amended SRP ordinance on the November ballot. We welcome opportunities to provide more information about the ordinance as well as help in getting it passed.

John D. Elder