Choice Fund has a fatal flaw

To the editor:

In May 2007, the Oberlin city council voted unanimously to establish a Sustainable Reserve Program funded by the revenue from selling renewable energy credits. This week former Oberlin city councilors, business owners, and other respected Oberlinians are starting to circulate a pair of petitions that, together, enable the voters to preserve the funding for that program.

Why do this now? The Ohio legislature has been cutting income for the city’s general fund. President Donald Trump’s administration is slashing the Environmental Protection Agency budget. So we can’t expect any federal or state support for local sustainability efforts. But thanks to that 2007 city council, the city has the funds to undertake long-term, large-scale energy saving programs to benefit the whole community.

The Community Choice Fund ordinance that council passed last month has a fatal flaw. It requires that 85 percent of the Renewable Energy Credits income be diverted from the Sustainable Reserve Fund to electric rate-payers – with the bulk of the diverted money going to big entities, such as Wal-Mart, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Oberlin College. The 85-15 percent scheme was passed by a 4-2 council vote (one member out of town) without public notice, despite the offer by the three councilors in the minority of a compromise 50-50 split.

One petition puts this flawed Community Choice Fund ordinance “on hold” until the November election. The other petition makes clear what we know the 2007 city council intended. It replaces “the” with “all net” before “income.” Add your signature and put these two issues to a vote on Nov. 7.

John Elder