Clemons files bill establishing governor-appointed Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida House Speaker Pro Tem Chuck Clemons (R-Newberry) has filed HB 1645, which would create a governor-appointed board to govern Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU).

The board, which will be known as the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority, will begin governing GRU on October 1, 2023, if the bill passes. The Authority’s powers and duties will include managing, operating, and controlling all GRU utilities; establishing and amending all rates, fees, regulations, and policies related to selling utility services; acquiring property and constructing projects, provided that the title to all of the property is vested in the City of Gainesville; exercising the power of eminent domain; issuing revenue bonds to finance or refinance projects; disposing of GRU assets under the same conditions that the City Commission must meet in disposing of those assets; submitting a budget to the City Commission every year; and appointing and/or removing GRU’s General Manager.

Each member of the Authority must be a “person of recognized ability and good business judgment as identified by the Governor,” and they are expected to perform their duties “in the best interests of GRU and its customers.” Except for one member who must be a resident of the unincorporated area of Alachua County or a municipality other than Gainesville, members must be qualified electors in the City of Gainesville and must maintain their primary residence within the electric service territory of GRU’s electric utility system.

  • One member shall be a residential customer “with substantial knowledge of GRU, its operations, and its history.”
  • One member shall be the owner or a representative of a private, non-government customer consuming at least 10,000 kilowatt hours per month of electric usage during each of the previous 12 months.
  • Three members shall be competent or knowledgeable in one or more of the following fields: law, economics, accounting, engineering, finance, or energy.

Members can be removed if they stop receiving GRU electric service at any time during their appointment. If more than 40% of GRU’s electric meters serve customers outside the city limits in the future, the governor must appoint a second member who lives outside the City limits at the time of the next appointment. Members of the board are not term-limited.

Authority appointment process

The governor will issue a public notice soliciting citizen nominations for the board at some point between July 1 and October 1; the nominations will remain open for 30 days, then the governor will appoint the initial members of the Authority. One member’s term will expire on October 1, 2024; one will expire on October 1, 2025; one will expire on October 1, 2026; and two will expire on October 1, 2027. Subsequent appointments will be for four-year terms. The first meeting of the Authority is set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, and the first official action of the Authority will be the election of a chair and vice chair from among its members; the GRU General Manager will serve until the Authority appoints a General Manager.

Authority members will not be compensated, but expenses can be reimbursed after the approval of a majority of the members. The Authority will meet monthly and will be a Sunshine board.

All GRU employees will report to the General Manager, who will have the exclusive authority to hire, fire, and set salaries. The General Manager’s salary will be set by the Authority.

The existing Utility Advisory Board, or any other utility advisory board established by the City Commission, will “have no role with respect to the Authority.”

The bill puts a cap on the General Services Contribution (GSC), which is currently referred to as the General Fund Transfer (the amount transferred from GRU to the City’s General Government budget each year). The GSC may not exceed the amount left over after operating expenses (as defined in the bill) are subtracted from net revenues. The bill states that any excess funds above the GSC shall be dedicated to debt service or used as equity in future projects.

The Authority is required to make decisions based on “only pecuniary factors and utility industry best practices standards, which do not include consideration of the furtherance of social, political, or ideological interests.” The bill further specifies that these factors “are those which solely further the fiscal and financial benefit of [GRU] and customers.”

The bill will likely have committee stops before it goes to the floor of the House and then to the Florida Senate, but those have not yet been scheduled.

  • Thank god I sure hope help is on the way my GRU bill last month was 287.60 this month it’s 406.20 nothing has changed at my house to cause that big of increase I called to ask them what day they read my meter because I have a security camera that shows the last 45 days no one have read that meter the funny part GRU couldn’t tell me what day it was read

  • Hope “Two Face” Harvey is reading this.
    This is your doing, your’s & the other leaders who have raped, pillaged and plundered GRU for too long. Whatcha gonna do now for your pet projects? Next step, you’ll be on the removal list.

    You can find solace behind one of those skirts you continually hide behind.

  • Gville’s only hopes. The circus needs to move on. Thank you Clemons for providing the remedy to clowns’ diphtheria.

  • Commissioners need to put all their efforts in an Exit Strategy for getting out of the way of progress and how they can try to salvage Gainesville, if that’s possible. Buckle up for a wild economic epic ride and financial responsibility for a change. Got It! ?? And no you cant annex your debts into Alachua County.

  • Ed Bielarski would be an obvious choice for this board. The first thing listed is ‘a residential customer with substantial knowledge of GRU, its operations, its history.”
    He knows GRU well, and this commission can’t pull a fast one on him (you know they’ll sure try!).
    C’mon Ed!!!

    • One of the first items the Board will have to decide is who should be the General Manager of GRU. I think Ed would be the obvious choice.

    • Ed Bielarski spent more time attacking Chuck Clemons when he worked for the city commission than he did actually keeping the finances afloat. He was their lapdog for years and just attack attack attack Chuck and Keith Perry all the time. Remember when he paid Andrew Gillum $150,000 of GRU funds to speak at some GRU event? Don’t let the guy fool you hell tell you whatever you wanna hear.

      • Ed gets the credit for the “deal of the century” buying the clunker.

        • GREC biomass plant is it is still noisy even though they said they fixed it. At Turkey creek we are woken up early in the morning with the loud noises. Not sure how burning wood chips is good for the environment.

      • It was $10,000 not $150,000 but either way, GRU had no business paying any politician to speak at an event. Why was GRU giving out scholarships to begin with? This was just one more example of how the City sucks money out of GRU above and beyond the GFT.

    • No. Ed was hired by the GNV CC and then was fired…he’s one of them and poisoned the well.

    • Skop should be appointed Mayor & chair the Utility Authority…Skop was on the PSC. Skop works tirelessly as a voice for the people.
      Skop is the top man for the job.

    • May not push the bill down but if it stops the hemorrhaging I’m all in.

      Time to try something new.

      • The new city commission needs to Undue the ESG they foisted on the city & GRU with their Agenda 21 , Agenda 30, & Great Reset…Have you forgotten face masks, quarantines, & Vax passport? these Marxist fascists are a nasty bunch of control freaks who are circle jerking each other wanting to take away your freedom and constitutional rights. As soon as we remove the face diaper ghouls from office, there will sunshine ☀️ and the city and GRU will be Great Again! Someone make up some MGGA red hats! God bless America & the US constitution! Let the love of god and sunshine smile upon on everyone’s faces.

    • Lowering commercial rates is probably the most important thing right now. Your bill would keep going up-up-up under Ward, Willits, Saco and Eastman. Now it won’t be nearly as bad. It’s a positive change. Do you really think the crew of goons on the commission belong in charge of a utility company? Why? Look at their track record. They can’t make an open container law or decide we’re going to have police dogs even if some people don’t like it. They are weak and useless.

      • The city still needs to cut spending….we don’t need the climate Czar or social justice equity positions.

        • Desantis will fix that next…if you are a sick & vulnerable commissioner who has to wear a face diaper, do us all a favor and get out now!

          • Desantis isn’t going to fix anything. What’s happening now is the result of many years of work by members of Gainesville Citzens Care.

    • It may not drop our bill but it will give those of us who live in the Country a voice in how it is ran
      Will cut out taking more money from GRU than it makes as in 68 million over last 4 years

  • Finally someone is going to put a stop to the city commissioners mad spending, now we just someone to put a stop to pedojoe.

    • Agreed. I’m amazed more aren’t talking about this – or more importantly the ramifications when it happens.

  • Gainesville has one of the highest garbage collection fee in the state. GRU rakes in fees for the transfer on every service it bills included garbage collection

    • And they charge for their recycle containers and trash cans. I know this because I had to purchase some for my townhouse in MileRun. I live in Alachua and we don’t have to pay for anything for our refuse or recyclables.

  • Way over due for this, but better late than never….thank you Chuck Clemons!!

  • Another hostile takeover by the governor, planned by Alachua County’s back stabber Clemons. Any so called “conservative Republican” supporting this big government move is a total hypocrite. They have grabbed local control and given it to Tallahassee time and time again – often guided only by the short sighted desire to help our corrupt Napoleonic governor run for president – and if the cause suits them will do the same if they ever again have power in DC. In the last state house redistricting, Clemons had more of Alachua County stripped out of his, to be sent to a representative based in MacClenny. Hopefully he’ll move there when out of office.

    • I am all for the city keeping GRU just let the 40 % of us who lives outside of the city that don’t have a say in how it’s ran get our electricity from another source. Then you left wingers who want to keep it and agree with how the city spends the money deal with the higher cost

      • GH, no one has a choice about where they get electricity, and if you think Duke will be more responsive to your opinion, I think you’re mistaken. By the way, over the years I have been a customer of Clay, Duke, and now GRU for the last couple of decades. By far the best and quickest service as well as fewest power outages have been while under GRU. I’m at the end of a sparsely populated private road, so expectations are low

        • Jazzman I own another home in Suwannee county about the same SQ. As the one here in hills of Sant Fe I have Duke energy there with my two sons living in it the electric bill is around 230.00 a month my GRU bill this month is 406.00 up from 325.00 last month
          Also I very seldom loose power with Duke so tell me again how great GRU is

          • Sure.

            Over the years I have been a customer of Clay, Duke, and now GRU for the last couple of decades. By far the best and quickest service as well as fewest power outages have been while under GRU. I’m at the end of a sparsely populated private road, so expectations are low

  • The Authority will make its decisions which “…will not include consideration of the furtherance of social, political, or ideological interests.”…goodbye Net 0 by 2050!

    Hanrahan ruined GRU by trying to stop climate change and implementing UN ideology (Agenda 21 & Kyoto Protocol) here locally going biomass… Go woke, go broke.

  • Apparently you haven’t read the JLAC report. DeSantis didn’t make this mess, Hanrahan and her minions did when they decided to load GRU up with as much debt as possible.

  • The real meat on this bone is “The bill puts a cap on the General Services Contribution (GSC)…” and true local control by including …”one member who must be a resident of the unincorporated area of Alachua County or a municipality other than Gainesville…”

    All the common sense measures in HB 1645 could have been taken long ago by the city commission.

    The city, instead of threatening civil suit, could implement HB 1645’s substance and possibly avoid having adults do their jobs for them.

    The GRU operation evolved into a political fight when the problems have been math and judgement. Math favors no one and decisions based on the numbers represent the quality of management.

    The commission, rather than covering failure with the adoption of political victimhood, could show some strength using the same energy used to expand its weaknesses.

    Who – asking again – will be the first commissioner to break from the herd? The eventuality of GRU rates favoring commercial and residential customers will prove the current commission wrong.

    Saavy politicians know when to live to fight another day.

    • They are all idiots on the GNV CC,
      Except Ed Book. The state had to step in, there was no choice. Things will be great now. And I have FPL, Duke, Clay & GRU. GRU is the worst. FPL is great.Duke & clay are great…no complaints at all…GRU is terrible…

      • That’s the opposite of my experience where GRU has provided the best service and the least downtime. I’ve been at the same location for 35 years and sampled Duke, Clay, and GRU.

    • Much of the debt was in the purchase of an asset – the biomass plant – which is predicted to save about $900 million over the years. If you have a mortgage on your house, other than your payments, do you consider that debt, the same as if you borrowed $300k from a loan shark?

  • Anyone ask where UF gets it’s electricity from? I know it is not the steam cogeneration plant on Mowry road. Would UF not pay taxes for fire/ems AND not buy power from the city as well?

    • They get what they don’t generate from Duke energy why would they want to pay GRU rates if they don’t have to

  • This is a good start by Clemons, but it’s not enough. You think taking the transfer away/decreasing it is going to make things cheaper for you? Stop it. You’re thinking like a rational person. This commission is not going to stop spending at the same (or higher) level they’ve been spending. They’re not going to cut anything. That’s not what regressives do. They’re going to look for other ways to get money out of your pocket (e.g., higher property taxes, garbage pick up, etc.). In the end, you’ll be paying more to the local government than you are now. It’s time for less government in Gainesville. A lot less. It’s time to get rid of it altogether.

  • Exactly what Gainesville needs, additional layers of government centered in and controlled by Tallahassee. FPL will buy GRU within 5-10 years.

  • It will be interesting to see what the city does. I suspect they will try annexation and taxation. One thing is for sure. They will have to figure out what basic services they can keep.

    • I believe one previous commenter indicated their support for annexation by the city but neighbors with better sense disagreed. Maybe the county will annex the city a la Duval County.

      • That would work too. Combining services makes sense in a county dominated by one city, as Alachua County is. Most residents work in Gainesville or it’s near suburbs, no matter where they live. By the way, at one point about 15 years ago it was reported that the largest employer for Putnam County was Shands.

  • Let’s hope that Gainesville has good lawyers who can stop this takeover by the state of another entity they don’t own, and while they’re at it sue Clemons and his henchmen for attorney’s fees.. GRU belongs to the City, not the state or even those customers living outside the city. This is like Disney, a private company that Governor Napoleon thinks belongs to him.

    • We know one thing, the city doesn’t have any good lawyers. That’s why they continually have to hire outside counsel.

      All this time Harvey has said GRU is owned by the residents…keep believing. I don’t remember leadership asking the residents for their opinion on rate increases and pay raises.

    • Jazzhole: the GNV CC has proven they can’t run a utility. Hanrahan ruined GRU by going biomass and implementing UN CO2 regulation here. Stuck us in that bankrupting 30 year Purchase agreement. Bielarski talks about his “deal of the year” buying the overpriced POS. The idiots on the GNV CC want net 0 by 2050 which is not feasible & would triple our debt. Everything sucks about GRU including their customer service. We will have sunshine when when the State steps in. I want to thank Clemons, Perry, & Nathan Skop for leading us to safety because Dem leadership has been a disaster since Hanrahan. Hanrahan ruined our utility and that will be her legacy…where is she now? Crickets🦗 🎵. Ed Bielarski was rejected by the voters and he’s very defensive because he was part of the problem and should have run the utility like how the authority is going to run it…Hanrahan lost the airport to the Airport Authority during her term and ruined GRU. What a disaster.
      Hanrahan should be investigated and so should the guys who sold us the wood burner. All those contract redactions for their proprietary rip off of the tax payers & ratepayers.
      The Airport Authority is a class act and so will the GRU utility Authority! I can’t wait till the State straightens this out!

      • No ESG provision…Take that Jabba!!! You suck like those paper straws!

        🎵 zippity doo dah, zippity Ay, my oh my what a wonderful day! 🎵

        • Careful Sherman, you may be called racist for using the lyrics that some claim to be offensive and promote servitude.

          • This may work: Put your mask on and go to your safe place you snowflake. It’s lefty liberal idiots like you who ruined GRU. You’re probably that fatso Sako…

      • I’d list Depot Park and the surrounding areas blossoming as Hanrahan’s most impactful contribution as a commissioner.

        My experience as a customer of Duke, Clay, and GRU over 35 years in one place is that GRU has far and away the best service and fewest power outages. According to today’s G’ville Sun it has a higher credit rating than Duke or FPL and it’s rates are lower than one and within $2 of the other.

        It’s depressing that so many supposedly conservative Republicans like Clemons and Perry and DeSantis want the state to take over control of local governments – and this is only one example of many over the last 4 years – but even private businesses like Disney because Governor Napoleon didn’t like what their CEO said. If Gainesville is in such bad shape – and that is clearly not obvious as the Sun article today highlights – let the voters take the consequences and handle it. If you don’t like it, run for office, get your candidate elected, or move. That’s what we normally do in America.

    • I already set you straight about Disney. All DeSantis did was normalize the playing field so that Disney is no longer receiving any undeserved special treatment from the State. Now there is Equity for all the theme parks, as they are all subject to the same laws and taxes. You should be applauding him. It was a Republican governor who signed the Reedy Creek Improvement Act in 1968, clearly in the pocket of big business, right Jazzman? Nowadays, it’s clear whose pockets Disney wants to be in (in more ways than one).

      • Mr Peabody, I guess you have to come up with something to explain the dictatorial impulses of Governor Ron Napoleon, but that’s BS. Before the Disney CEO ticked him off by exercising his 1st amendment rights to criticize the state, ending Disney’s special district was on no one’s horizon as an issue, a problem, or something needing attention. That had zero to do with it and if Google it – as I did when this blew up – you will find nothing about it in any news prior to Napoleon’s hissy fit.

        Further, DeSantis himself said he hopes and expects that his board will cause Disney to change course in programming and direction, so cut the crap about some problem with special districts. By the way, The Villages is a special district but somehow fairness to other developers because of this not an issue for Republicans.

        At some point you have to ask yourself why the Governor has chosen – other than his own rigidity and ego – to go after the 2 most successful institutions in the state with a wrecking ball. Disney, without which Orlando is the orange juice capital of the world with visitors coming from as far away as Lake City, and our state university system, one of the best in the nation and the best in the south. This is insanity.

        This is not Republicans have promising for decades now – small government. This is whatever disco-boots fatty Napoleon wants, he gets, and screw local control and business autonomy.

        • Disney no longer promotes the nuclear family….go woke, go broke. Someone mentioned earlier that “ zippity do dah” lyric
          Is racist. That’s total hogwash.
          Disney went social justice overboard by promoting taboo as acceptable and is ending up being a “groomer”.

          • So, you don’t like their product and therefore want the government to take them over? You get that that is neither a conservative or American principle, right?

    • OMG, some people just can’t accept the fact Gainesville elected leaders bankrupted GRU even with the highest rates in the state, and Gainesville is next. 84% debt ratio, $22,500 of every $100,000 in revenue goes to debt. Liberals and Greenies own it.

      • Shad, from today’s G’ville Sun:

        “..GRU maintains a top-tier credit grade from all three major rating agencies, higher than Florida Power and Light and Duke Energy….Clemons has said publicly that the city is on the brink of bankruptcy, though there is no indication that is it.”

  • When I search for HB 1645 on the legislature’s web site, the only thing I can find is a five page bill describing composition and appointments to the GRU controlling board. Where can I go to see the part that talks about the GSC?

  • Hallelujah! Lame, inexperienced city commissioners don’t magically know how to run a regional utility just because they got elected to a small post most people don’t want. First question is: How’s it worked out so far? Most citizens will agree it’s worked out horribly! Bring on the appointed individuals!

    • You are loved Mr.Holt…it would be great to have you on that Utility Authority. God bless you!

    • C Holt, they hire people who do know how to do that. GRU has a higher credit rating than Duke or FPL and the city’s supposed massive debt is about half on a mortgage on an asset, you know, like your house. BY buying instead of renting they are projected to save $900 million over the life of the asset.

  • Going from this article, one thing that needs to be added to the GSC language is that only the customers from addresses inside the city should contribute to the GSC. Say 60% of the revenue comes from inside the city, then for every $6 of GSC an additional $4 should be paid as a rebate to non-city customers based on their share of annual revenue.

  • Going from this article, one thing that needs to be added to the GSC language is that only the customers from addresses inside the city should contribute to the GSC. Say 60% of the revenue comes from inside the city, then for every $6 of GSC an additional $4 should be paid as a rebate to non-city customers based on their share of annual revenue.

  • Today’s coverage in the Gainesville Sun:

    “..GRU maintains a top-tier credit grade from all three major rating agencies, higher than Florida Power and Light and Duke Energy….Clemons has said publicly that the city is on the brink of bankruptcy, though there is no indication that is it.

    …While Clemons has stated that all members of the board must be Alachua County residents and GRU customers, the filed five-page bill doesn’t explicitly state that…

    …Nothing in the bill specifically states that it will help reduce electric bills for GRU customers.

    In February, the Florida Municipal Electric Association released a bill comparison report that shows Duke Energy having higher bills than GRU. It also shows that GRU was only about $2 higher than FP& L.

    Since then, however, the city lowered its fuel charge by about $15 a month, placing it closer to the investorowned utility average and lower than several other municipal utilities…

    …City officials, including the previous mayor, Lauren Poe, have said major utility providers like Florida Power and Light and Duke Energy have been increasingly interested in GRU’s territory and believe they are behind the constant push to remove the commission’s control.

    While lawmakers − some of whom have accepted tens of thousands in campaign donations from FP& L and Duke − have stayed mum on the subject, the new board would have the ability to sell off any utility asset…

    …Among the findings was the city’s overall debt, $1.2 billion of which falls on the utility side.

    About half of that comes from the purchase of the biomass facility, a decision JLAC members also criticized but one that saved taxpayers nearly $900 million over three decades. …

    GRU doesn’t supply the University of Florida with all of its power, as Tallahassee does with Florida State University. Furthermore, a majority of property in the city is also off the tax rolls…”

    • “[O]ne that saved taxpayers nearly $900 million over three decades” Now that is spectacularly hilarious coming from the same failing regressive propaganda machine that told us, around 2012 or so, that the biomess would be profitable for GRU by 2019! What actually happened in the real world is that the city commission made one bumbling decision after another, resulting in the possibility of the taxpayers having to pay a ridiculous amount of money to bail out of the great green new deal fiasco they lied about. They don’t get credit because someone else was able to mitigate the magnitude of the mistake they made.

      Oh, and the regressive commissions elected by about 15%
      of the population have run GRU’s debt up to an 80% ratio. UF wouldn’t even consider doing business with them! So please spare me the “their credit rating is still okay” when this commission is about to enter into its newest fiasco- the solar mess. How do you think that credit rating’s going to look in a few years?

      Smaller government? Hell to the yes on that. Get rid of Gainesville city government completely. That WILL save taxpayers money. Negotiate for basic services with a fiscally responsible state government which has a balanced budget mandate and runs yearly surpluses. Get rid of regressive government!

    • What a bunch of crap. I was supposed to get 4 GRU bills in the
      Envelope and there’s only 3 inside… try calling customer service! Ha! I pay bills to all the local utilities and GRU is the worst and most expensive…I don’t believe anything the GvilleSun prints, stopped reading it years ago. What a great deal buying out that bad deal….you’re nuts. The state will bail us out with the utility authority.

    • 2 wrongs do not make a right! We should never have gone biomass and we should not have bought the clunker…. Stop with the gaslighting. Liberalism is a mental disorder.

  • Entertaining seeing all these statists who can’t handle facts begging Daddy in Tallahassee to take over. No wonder they can’t win an election here. Like Clemons and Perry, they hate Gainesville and resent the fact it’s the reason they had or have a job and live on it’s outskirts. Move someplace where you’ll be happier.

    • Also entertaining- your fealty to the local regressive failures and their policies. Gainesville has been owned by the left for many years with no meaningful conservative input. And this is what a regressive world looks like (according to the local regressives)- no affordable housing, the local utility is leveraged to the hilt, violent crime is skyrocketing, it’s a homeless Mecca, and everyone’s oppressed. Even ol’ Rep Hinson says the commission has made utility rates virtually unaffordable for poor, working people. There are your facts. Well guess who’s responsible for all that? Can’t blame Uncle Ronnie and the conservatives this time! Meanwhile, you’re still hoping for different results from the same people. That’s not just entertaining, that’s hysterical!

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