PUC chair resigns over RECs in letter to the editor

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To the editor:

I am writing to call your attention to a new development with respect to the status of the $2.8 million in funds the city accrued from charging electric customers for landfill gas Renewable Energy Credits while actually delivering cheaper wind RECs.

The Ohio tax commissioner has approved the city’s request to transfer these monies out of the restricted electric enterprise funds into the city’s unrestricted general funds. This transfer will complete the process by which the city has overcharged electric customers, including not-for-profit entities, in order to provide general tax revenues for the city. There is nothing other than public outrage to prevent the city from doing this repeatedly in the future. This is the first time in history that Oberlin Municipal Light and Power Systems has been used to generate a profit for the city. And 80 percent of this revenue comes from the 20 largest commercial electric customers.

City council has said these funds will be used for its Climate Action Plan. One of its primary goals is to eliminate city natural gas use. These funds will no doubt be used to renovate city buildings to replace natural gas heating systems with ones that use electricity. As the city does not pay for electricity, the costs of this additional electricity will be borne by electric customers who pay higher rates to cover city electric use. Hence funds obtained by overcharging electric customers will be used to drive up electric rates.

I have served on the public utilities commission for nine years, chairing it for most of this period. I joined PUC at the urging of my friend Sharon Soucy and worked with her and previous councils to achieve common goals. During my tenure I have worked to reduce the carbon content of our electric supply while keeping electric rates as low as possible.

Our current council is hell bent on greening our town at any cost. I do not share this goal. I have decided to resign from the Public Utilities Commission. I will not participate in this “green money machine” that is fleecing OMLPS customers while OMLPS electric rates continue to rise.

John Scofield