Dispelling REC misconceptions

To the editor:

When the city council created the Choice program, they did not spell out exactly how REC money would be distributed to electric customers. All Section 4 of the ordinance says is that 85 percent of the REC funds “shall be returned in the form of a credit to the accounts of utility customers over a time frame to be determined by the electric director and finance director.” Nothing says how the credit will be calculated.

Let’s be very clear. This is not a rebate as it is commonly understood by most people. If it were a true rebate system, the REC money would be apportioned to all electric customers based on their actual electricity usage over the years during which the REC money was acquired. Then this sum would be given to each customer in one lump sum. This is not going to happen!

What we have instead is a vague plan to give customers a credit (not yet specified as to how it is calculated) for some number of years to be determined. So, for example, if you used 500 kWh of electricity one month and, also for example, if it is somehow decided that the credit is a penny for each kilowatt-hour, your bill would be reduced by $5 for that month. Now, of course, you could tell the city to direct that $5 into the Choice fund and cancel your credit, or you could choose to put the $5 you saved into your own personal fund so that you could buy whatever you need.

Note that only current electric utility customers would receive the credit with the city’s program, and it would most probably be based only on each month’s usage. So it doesn’t matter how much electricity you paid for in the past unless someone actually comes up with a scheme based on that instead of current usage. How likely is that?

Please vote no on Issue 17.

Kevin Weidenbaum