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Gainesville Residents Will Get A Small Break On Their Electric Bill

Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) announced that customers will pay slightly less for their electricity starting May 2016.

Thanks to lower prices in the natural gas market, residential GRU customers will soon be saving two to three dollars each month on their electric bills.

City commissioners hope that this is the start of a downward trend for the company with the highest residential rate in the state.

In January, prices were lowered to $0.073 per kilowatt-hour. After reviewing projections for the remainder of the year, Edward Bielarski, general manager for utilities, directed for prices to be lowered again. Beginning in May, it will be $0.070 per kWh.

Justin Locke, GRU's chief financial officer, said the fuel adjustment is a number that fluctuates with GRU’s purchased power, and it doesn’t make any money on the production of power.

“So, we simply try to look at it on a month-to-month basis to see if we’re over- collecting or under-collecting,” Locke said.

Locke said GRU has been over-collecting due to changes in how it was running power plants, including GREC, Gainesville’s biomass plant.

GREC received blame for contributing to Gainesville’s high power costs, and GRU is pursuing cheaper fuel sources.

“So, because we’ve stopped running GREC, and we were able to buy power on the market at a cheaper rate, mainly because gas prices were lower,” Locke said. “Therefore, we’re able to take advantage of the market for our customers.”

Due to the lower price of gas, GRU is able to purchase it at a lower price and then offer it at a lower price for their customers.

Despite this price cut, Jim Konish, who ran for the District 4 city commission seat this past election cycle, is still skeptical.

"While it's a step in the right direction, we've suffered for years with unnecessarily high fuel adjustment charges, and they're no where near the middle of the pack, which is where they say they want to go,” Konish said. “And they’re not going to get it by what they’re doing.”

He believes GRU needs to reevaluate, and get out of, the contract with GREC.

“They really wasted a lot of time and a lot of money on strategies that so far really have delivered very little savings,” Konish said. “The savings we're getting are from reduced fuel costs, it's not because they've made progress with GREC – they haven’t.”

Zoe is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news
Elise is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing