Bielarski’s “hybrid” solution is just another false promise



After informing us that we are at a “crossroads” after nearly twenty years of gross mismanagement of Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), General Manager Ed Bielarski has decided to go to an unimaginable extreme. 

After paying too much for an unnecessary biomass plant and failing to deliver any “savings,” Bielarski has tried to rush through another expensive, unnecessary, 30-year commitment to something else that likewise is unnecessary.

Aside from a vague comment about five GRU electric plants being over the age of 38, Bielarski has presented no justification for abandoning some or all of these assets. No mention is made of the requirement in our City Charter that city electors pre-approve the “disposal” of GRU electric generation assets.

While throwing around wild and conflicting ideas like running our gigantic coal plant wide open, or converting it to run on natural gas, or maybe building another biomass plant, Bielarski suddenly wants rushed, unvetted approval of paying for another transmission line into our community. Duke already has a line running in. Now, Bielarski wants to pay for a line large enough to purchase electricity that we probably would never need. While paying for this line for 30 years, we will have to share this line with any other community who needs electricity north of us.

Bielarski fails to present most of the recommendations found in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) obtained by his own request from The Energy Authority (TEA).

No mention is made of TEA recommendations to:

  • “Add solar resources to lower average energy cost and advance towards City’s goal of 100% renewable system.”
  • “Limit additional solar capacity to 74.5 MW until additional Area Control Error (ACE) and detailed production cost analysis is performed.” 
  • “Add 10 MW of reciprocating internal combustion engine (RICE) per 20 MW of solar as rapid response back up due to intermittency of solar energy.” 
  • “Refurbish JR Kelly Combined Cycle to take advantage of the current low-cost natural gas environment and delay a significant capital expenditure for unit replacement.” 
  • “Retain Deerhaven 2 and Deerhaven Renewable (the biomass plant) at least until the next IRP update.” 
  • “Continue to monitor biomass status as a renewable energy resource.” 
  • “Consider coordinating with other utilities by jointly balancing systems to help maintain system reliability at a reasonable cost in a high renewable environment.” 
  • “Continue to include regular IRP updates as part of an effective planning process.”

Bielarski is, in fact, conceding that the City Commission’s stated goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045 is not obtainable, since we would not be able to dictate the source(s) of electricity that will flow through a massive, overbuilt, and expensive transmission line owned by an investor-owned utility (IOU). 

It is important to note that the TEA cautions that biomass could lose its “status as a renewable energy source” (which it should never have had in the first place).

Thus the “renewable” goal is continuing to emerge as an expensive hoax on the GRU ratepayers.

Bielarski is now making false promises that the massive debt he aggressively advocated for and incurred could be quickly paid off from alleged and imagined “savings” from another ill-advised, poorly-conceived scheme that tramples our City Charter and common sense.