City Commission should ask Bielarski about the IRP report



The presentation that GRU’s General Manager Ed Bielarski will give to the Gainesville City Commission today leans heavily on a report written by The Energy Authority (TEA) for GRU. Bielarski’s presentation says, “This study, called an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), shows a capital expenditure (CAPEX) of between $895 million and $1.954 billion in today’s dollars to replace aging units and move toward our 100% renewable goal.”

He then presents four options and goes on to recommend the “hybrid” option, which entails a 30-year contract with Florida Power & Light to build new transmission lines through Alachua County. 

However, the IRP study presents a completely different recommendation, which Bielarski has not presented to the commission:

  • 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. Battery storage may become a more cost-effective alternative as the economics and technology improve.
  • 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. 

The City Commission should ask Bielarski to brief them on the IRP report before they make any irreversible decisions that will result in 30 years of payments, a loss of jobs at GRU, new high-voltage power lines across our community, and decommissioning our power plants.

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