Vote no on Issue 16 and yes on Issue 17

To the editor:

I write to urge Oberlin residents to vote no on Issue 16 and yes on Issue 17.

These two issues determine the fate of nearly $2.5 million of excess payments made by Oberlin electric customers. By law, OMLPS is supposed to operate without profit, charging customers exactly what their electric energy costs to produce and deliver. OMLPS purchases both electrons (energy) and renewable energy credits for landfill gas electricity generated in Ohio. A few years ago OMLPS, the public utilities commission, and council realized that we could sell the landfill RECs into the Ohio REC market and replace them with cheaper wind RECs from out of state, thereby lowering the cost of our electric energy. Since customers were being charged for the more expensive landfill gas RECs, this created an annual profit of about $800,000.

Yes on Issue 17 affirms council’s decision to return 85 percent of these profits to the ratepayers on future bills, helping offset imminent rate increases. Fifteen percent would be retained in the Sustainable Reserve Fund, a restricted OMLPS fund that is used for energy efficiency projects such as funding POWER. In addition, the city will encourage willing customers to donate back their “rebates” to an unrestricted “Choice Fund” that can be used for a broad array of projects to improve our community, many of which could not be funded by the restricted, sustainable reserve fund.

Issue 16, instead, would have the city keep all of these profits and deposit them in the restricted Sustainable Reserve Fund. OMLPS customers would continue to pay inflated electric rates and can only hope the city uses this huge slush fund wisely.

I believe Oberlin residents can make better decisions with their money than can the city. Give people choice by voting no on Issue 16 and yes on Issue 17.

John H. Scofield

Chair, Oberlin Public Utilities Commission