A message from GRU’s General Manager regarding HB 1645

Press release from Gainesville Regional Utilities

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – As the General Manager of GRU, I am responsible for ensuring that our customers receive high-quality, essential utility services every moment of every day, and I am absolutely committed to this mission.  

A new law is taking effect on July 1, 2023, that creates a governor-appointed, five-member board called the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority to oversee GRU instead of the Gainesville City Commission, GRU’s current governing body. 

I want to assure customers that GRU will remain a public utility and continue to provide safe and reliable electric, water, wastewater, natural gas, and telecommunications services to our community. 

The City has a long and storied history of providing utilities to Gainesville, dating back to the 1891 purchase of Boulware Springs to ensure an abundant water supply. In 1912, the city then established a public power system and started producing energy two years later from what is now the J.R. Kelly Generating Station.  

GRU now provides electric service to more than 200,000 people from 10 generating units and serves about 190,000 people with water/wastewater from one water treatment plant and two water reclamation facilities. More than 800 employees at these facilities and others work around the clock to maintain our outstanding record for safety, reliability, environmental stewardship, and community involvement.   

A change in who oversees GRU does not alter our mission or commitment to these principles, nor does it change our obligation to financial stability. In the past few months, GRU has committed to reducing its net debt by $315 million over the next 10 years and has worked to develop a sensible formula for the annual funds GRU transfers to the city. The new method reduces the amount of money transferred and will help pay down debt quicker.  

For more than 100 years, GRU has served this community. We excel in our ability to navigate change, whether in governance or everyday operations. The utility industry is ever-evolving, and GRU is equipped to meet the challenges of uncertainty with a promise of reliability.  

Tony Cunningham, General Manager 
Gainesville Regional Utilities

  • He conveniently failed to mention the BioMass Fiasco that was dumped on GRU customers in and about 2014.

    Reported in the liberal paper in 2018 to be “among the country’s worst.”
    Energyjustice reported the Gainesville Sun’s Biomass coverup.

    Obvious the City Commission is also among the country’s worst…must have a lot to do with the voters.

    • Educated idiots is the best way to describe the majority of Gainesville voters.

  • The GRU About page states there are 93,000 customers. Did somebody give him the wrong numbers for his press release, or is the GRU page outdated?

    • My household is 1 customer (account) , serving 4 people. The gru account at a school or gym is 1 account, serving several hundred people. I agree that switching between the two can be confusing, and perhaps Mr Cunningham could have been clearer, but a utility has to think of things in both ways.

      93000 water meters indicate 93000 accounts, but those meters obviously serve water to a much larger number of people.

  • According to the Supervisor of Elections page there are 185,145 registered voters. The Census Bureau estimates the population of Alachua County is 278,475. The Electric service territory of GRU is a little larger than the Gainesville City Boundary. The Census Bureau estimates the population of Gainesville is 140,398. How does GRU have a electric customer count of 72% of the entire County?

    • Because the westside suburbs outside the city limits house a lot of customers.

  • I am hopeful that without the City Commission raiding the GRU coffers, that GRU will indeed be able to navigate this change with excellence.

    Good for Tony Cunningham for delivering a positive message, pledging to deliver reliable service to GRU’s customers.

    Blessed are the peacemakers…

  • How about the “smart meters”?? You guys took away the remote-read meters that we all paid extra for, and now I hear my meters will have to be manually read (letting the meter reader into my backyard) for the next TWO YEARS until the smart meters magically start working? Is that right?

    • At least they are reading yours my ring camera shows my meter it looks like they only read it every other month

    • I’m still very concerned about privacy issues. If a burglar breaks in because he’s hacked the system and figured out there’s nobody home, what percentage of the responsibility now belongs to GRU since there’s no way to opt out?

      • Or maybe you have patio furniture or gardening tools or other things in your backyard that you would rather not show off to the world. It’s a different person every month from what I’ve seen.

  • The Florida Municipal Power Association website shows a customer count of 100,944. If GRU provides electric service to more than 200,000 people then no wonder it’s in debt. Over 99,000 people need to become paying customers.

    • See above replies. Customer numbers are meter locations, not people numbers inside.

  • Sad so sad they can’t produce accurate figures . No wonder they are insolvent, but still in denial.

    • Actually it’s the City Commission who couldn’t produce their financials or balance their check book. This wasn’t a problem with GRU’s finance department. As a matter of fact, they had to send their financial people over to the City side to help them out.

  • Now the state pols are on the hook to keep GRU solvent and reliable. Perhaps they’ll use it to attract a new private industry that pays taxes, for a change?

    • Gainesville, a great city for a major company to go to and die!

      No industry here is by design.

    • GRU was a cash cow before Pegeen Hanrahan turned it into her personal piggy bank.

  • Should read, “For over 100 years, GRU has fleeced its customers with outrageous rates & greedy commissioners.”

    • actually that wasn’t really the case until around the time of Pegeen.

  • The new Utility Authority should look into the mysteries surrounding the biomass plant contract. Last minute language changes, removal of escape clauses, etc. Perhaps they can confirm that said financial liabilities constitute odious debt and are therefor null and void.

    • The new Board’s job is to oversee GRU, not to investigate the past wrong doings of the City Commission. That’s the job of auditors and investigators.

    • Not possible Lex. The $750 m of debt the city assumed for buying the plant isn’t owed to GREC, it’s financed and GRU owes it regardless. The serious anomalies you point out weren’t right for good government, but weren’t frauds because your own elected mayor, city commission (Hanrahan, Poe, etc.), and their appointees knew and ok’d everything. This has been looked into several times including the 2015 Navigant report and one by myself and Ackerman Law in 2017 ( https://www.gainesvillefl.gov/files/assets/public/city-auditor/documents/170002-options-for-forensic-audit-20170518.pdf ), both of which I presented to the city commission, in detail. Both efforts were considerable efforts and took several months, attempts were made to interview various previous principals from the city and GRU but got little on those fronts. The fact is, your own elected city officials are responsible for the fiasco and biggest waste of time and expense in north central FL history. Elections matter!

  • If I was him I’d be preparing an unemployment application and updating the LinkedIn profile.

  • It’s obvious the city commission put him up to this post in a desperate attempt to save their precious but hugely wasteful transfer to the city general fund, talking about how it’s been cut. Well, the fact is, the new appointed leadership can quickly determine those funds are better put to use paying down GRU debt or shoring up electric generation facilities after being burdened by a new, unneeded solar contract. I hope the next annual transfer is one dollar and 2 cents! Start actually cutting Ward!

  • >