DeSantis signed HB 1645 today – what happens next?

Speaker Pro Tem Chuck Clemons explains his bill in the House | Screen capture from Florida Channel by Alachua Chronicle

Updated at 5:50 p.m. with link to Mayor Ward’s statement.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 1645, a bill sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore Chuck Clemons to create a governor-appointed governing authority for Gainesville Regional Utilities.

The bill becomes effective July 1, and the Governor is required to issue a public notice soliciting citizen nominations for Authority members within 120 days (October 29). The nomination solicitation period will remain open for at least 30 days after the public notice is issued.

The Governor must appoint the initial members of the  Authority within 60 days after the close of the nomination solicitation period. The initial terms will begin on October 1, 2023, with one member serving one year, one member serving two years, one member serving three years, and two members serving four years. Members appointed for subsequent terms will serve four-year terms.

Clemons encouraged residents to “focus on coming together as a community to get the best-qualified applicants for the Governor to consider. If you know of someone who meets the requirements and is willing to be considered, please nominate them. Self-nominations are also welcome.”

The first meeting of the Authority is set for October 4, 2023, in the Gainesville City Commission chambers, and the first official action of the Authority will be to elect a chair and vice chair from among its members. The Authority will meet at least once a month. 

Authority members must each be “a person of recognized ability and good business judgment as identified by the Governor”; each member “is expected to perform his or her official duties in the best interests of GRU and its customers.”

One member must be a residential customer of GRU with “substantial knowledge of GRU, its operations, and its history.”  

One member must be a private, non-government customer consuming at least 10,000 kWh per month of electric usage during each of the previous 12 months; this member may be the owner or a representative of the customer.

Three members must be “competent and knowledgeable” in one or more of a list of fields related to operating a utility, including law, economics, accounting, engineering, finance, or energy.

All members must maintain a primary residence in the electric service territory of GRU and must be GRU electric customers at all times while appointed to the Authority. Members must be qualified electors of the City except that one member must live outside the city limits. Members may not have any felony convictions.

Clemons sent an open letter in which he said that he and the other Republican members of Alachua County’s legislative delegation (Sen. Jennifer Bradley, Rep. Chuck Brannan, and Sen. Keith Perry) “heard the pleas of a broad cross-section of our constituents to do something, anything, to right this ship. The signing of the bill to appoint a Gainesville Regional Utility Authority was not reactionary – it was over 7 years in the making, including a two-year study by the Auditor General, who brought forth the facts which evidenced the urgent need for legislation.”

Clemons went on to “commit that the governance of GRU will return to the tenets upon which the utility was founded” and “pledge that we will make certain that each and every sincere position and perspective in regards to the direction of GRU is afforded the requisite respect and consideration that all citizens deserve.” Clemons told Alachua Chronicle, “This is the first step in stabilizing our local utility to make it viable for the next 100 years. This is the first time that 100% of GRU customers will be represented by the decision-makers of GRU, and it is satisfying.” 

After this article was published, Mayor Harvey Ward issued a statement in which he promised to “ensure a proper and dependable transition” to the new Authority. He added, “I say this not because I believe a governor-appointed GRU Authority is the right move for our utility and our community, but because at this moment that debate is over. It is my job to make this changeover a smooth one for the people of Gainesville.”

  • Thank you Chuck Clemons! Thank you for actually caring, unlike the city commission!

      • He did it for all of *US* who are tired of the Socialists who have ruined our utility.

      • If you voted for those knuckleheads in City Hall you should rethink your choice of words or at least look in the mirror.

      • Clemons pissing in the cornflakes of left wing degenerates that continually piss away more than they take in is enough for anyone that pays for GRU utilities, yet, is unable to vote for the Gainesville city commission!

        • And even if they were able to vote for the city commission, they’d be outvoted by 40,000 students – and UF pays NOTHING to GRU, the students are literally voting the money out of my wallet!!😫😫😫

      • Your entitle to your opinion as for mine it he did it for the 40% of the GRU customers who lives outside of the city who has no say so about what the city does yet we have to pay a surcharge for getting GRU to support the left wing ideas of wokeville that’s called taxation without representation.
        Me personally I would have preferred that The City stop GRU at the city limits and allow the 40% of us to get our electricity from another source
        Fred please go to the city and make that happen I would appreciate it

    • Finally, the Gainesville City Commission will not be able to do their budget via reckless abandonment with ideas for grandiose radical and wasteful spending, knowing ole GRU needs a rate increase and claiming: “We’ll live within our (jacked-up) budget” (speaking out two sides of their mouth). The Poe administration did the most damage (after the 2010 biomass idiocy) raising spending every year with absurd projects (almost wasted another $200 million + on free/low priced GRU internet at a loss). No thought just to provide good basic-service government of course. He’s a failure, even let go by the school where he taught HS kids history, not an “economics professor”! Laughable…Thank-you Mr. Clemons and Mr. Perry! GRU: Free at last!!!

  • Mayor Harvey Ward’s forked tongue and outright falsehoods are about to be officially noticed at the state level. He’s already trying to spin the lies he has already said. You remember that $19 million he swore to cut from the budget? Well, so far the budget is INCREASING, except for counting savings from not filling currently empty jobs. That fakery is only worth $1.5 million. Oh yeah. He and his merry band of incompetents are going to raise property taxes to compensate for lost GRU revenue. Plus waste water and fire tax hikes.

    • NO on Bielarski. Skop and Childers would be great choices.

      • I have a feeling Ed will become GRU CEO. The Board will be unpaid.

    • Is better to stay away from past candidates,
      what about Ron Myers, he was on the water business for more than 40 years and he don eat BS…

      Gainesville is full of talented people…but Harvey Ward

  • What happens next? Lawsuits against this governor who continuously abuses his power. If you think the man who sold you all out for insurance industry donors has your best interest in mind you have another thing coming. Y’all got played by politicians – exorbitant property insurance rates AND utility rates coming soon.

    • I guess we’re playing catch up to the liberal lunatic voters who elected the idiot politicians in City Hall.

      Safe to say we have a long way to go.

    • As they say, be careful what you wish for. I’m looking forward to Ward and Eastman opening the door for the State to do discovery and take depositions.

    • Boo Whooo Fred. Enjoy Gainesvilles insolvency . We will enjoy lower utility bills. If GRU can’t be save , Oh Well . You can take credit for thier downfall as well.

    • Left wing degenerates get played every election! We understand politicians are useless, we simply vote for the side that isn’t flat out stating that they will raise taxes along with the side that doesn’t think they have dominion over our lives!
      The left thinks they can tell us what, when and how to live our lives and we will roll over like peasants and do as we are told! NOT EVER GOING TO HAPPEN!

  • That’s good. GRU can begin its rehabilitation process. It will take time, but hopefully we can have more normal/average rates before long. We need a serious study about the possible health effects of the biomass plant on nearby residents. And the impact of the hundreds of semi-trucks every day, month after month.

  • Let’s hope the second official business is turning off the money spigot to the wasteful city leaders.

  • So the real reason for the state takeover has begun. GRU will be sold to FPL within 18 months…no doubt about it.

    • Where did you change up with that the law clearly states GRU still belongs to the people of Gainesville it can’t be sold without voter approval

    • So let’s assume FP&L buys GRU. The price could be north of $1.5billion. I can’t understand why the city is against that… I get a nervous scary feeling just thinking about what they could do with that kind of $$$$.

  • Maybe some of those lucrative green jobs will land in Gainesville to make up for the lost GFT money. In fact, this should be the green job capital of the south.
    We have the makings of utopia unfolding before our eyes thanks to Chuck Clemson.
    The city and county commissions should re-imagine life for the citizens with low utility rates and a balance of power in the job market.
    Clemons has done all the heavy lifting. Now is the time for both commissions and their staff to step up and bring home the bacon.

  • The first thing Mayor Ward has said – months too late – to be profoundly true, “… because at this moment that debate is over.”

    What is left to GRU customers is to acknowledge – if rates/fees decrease over the next the year – 1645 was the right move and the City Commission has been patently wrong.

    It’s now all about performance, not rhetoric.

    • Cutting off the City Commission’s access to GRU’s funds, will go a long way to making GRU an affordable and well run Utility again. That’s why our elected officials are so desperate to hang on to their Precious. They’ve found all sorts of creative way to pull money out of GRU above and beyond the GFT.

      • Then it might be a double bonus with the City doing some more budget trimming or further doom their tenure with another property tax increase.

        The latter is going to be the next battle if landlords pass on any tax increase to low income tenants. The subsidized – ‘affordable’ – housing plans fit into that scenario.

  • Can we get the pen DeSantis used to sign it framed and auctioned off for charity?

  • The new board will be appointed by a governor who hates Gainesville and Alachua County and will also be totally unaccountable to citizens. Almost no one here cares because they hate Gainesville too and don’t care about democracy if it doesn’t work their way, nor the rights of owners to control their property.

    • We care quite a bit. Without this change, GRU has no hope of existing as a viable electrical generation enterprise in 15 years.

      None of the CC would be nominated to the board of directors of a public company the size of GRU and they regularly exhibit their deficiencies in both ability and judgment.

      They use every opportunity to demonstrate via their public words and votes that they have no fiduciary responsibility to the non-resident customers of the utility. Moreover, they have gone out of their way to be hostile to the interests of these customers by fleecing the utility for their city projects while cutting GRU maintenance and equipment replacement budgets.

      What is truly sad about the entire affair is the cost that commissions starting with Hanrahan have imposed on the less fortunate members of the community. The money those commissions committed to send to unelected, non-local financiers to pay for the biomass plant could have done a lot.

    • Hey genius, (that’s a contradiction), we can’t control what we do on or to our property now.
      I care about Gainesville and the vile deposit of filth and monetary mismanagement that’s come under these incompetent leaders you continue to support. Hopefully the fiscal incompetence can be resolved with the new legislation but unfortunately until knuckleheads like yourself figure out your votes have adverse consequences on the community, we’ll be stuck with the filth.

    • Oh well, sucks to be a liberal in Gainesville…

      Get ready for some changes in Gainesville… can’t wait !! Giddy with excitement.

    • What a Bizzare state of mentaility Azz Man conveys , Is he one of the 504 Group suing and hateing on GRU captive taxslaves ?? It appears that way , What a total Azz Hating on a Cure for GRU and Wokesville Pending Bankruptcy. The recent Lawsuit Hating on all GRU Customers will hopefully trigger the investistigation on the Lets Go Brandon
      Leadership and sick , totaly beyond sick agendas.

    • Governor DeSantis doesn’t hate AC and GNV! Just those career, local politicians, who are running the County and the City into the ground for their own good, and the good of their developer handlers!

      I hope he decides to wait until 2028 to be US President, and stick around for the remainder of his current term to dismantle the local dishonest politicians grip on AC and GNV!

    • Yeah, I get that most of you hate Gainesville too, or like Steve, has convinced himself that an unaccountable board appointed by a guy who in every other incidence of his several hostile takeovers, has appointed GOP hacks or ideological radicals is going to do the right things and right the ship. Hey, maybe unlike New College and Disney he wont openly seek to punish those entities, and his complete lack of experience in business will somehow not be important. But given that, and assuming the board is great, fixes everything, and there are no more GRU complaints, there’s the thing about the precedent of taking control away from citizens of property they created and own, and when there was no crisis. You do not have to approve of the current GNV commission or the way GRU is run to understand to think the rights AND RESPONSIBILITIES of ownership should belong to the owners and their elected representatives. This was a move by 2 local elected leaders who are unpopular in Gainesville, and have long been in the pocket of FPL, literally. So, liberal democratic governor in 2034 decides to strip Newberry and Ocala of their control of public property, no problem, we can do that! That the supposed self proclaimed conservative, small government party cheers this on and wants more power given to Tallahassee, all to advance their party’s control, means principle no longer matters, partisan team playing does, and sleaze balls like Clemons and Perry can cheat their way into office by illegal dark money – from FPL – and by gerrymandering and then stick it to the biggest city in their districts, but which they are insulated from by that gerrymandering. Anyone celebrating this is shallow, believes in fairies if they have a MAGA hat on, and favors partisanship over good governance.

      • Pompous Assman, we’d rather have people chosen for their abilities and skills as GRU leaders instead of some delusional losers who happened to win local elections for city commission but who could work only as customer service agents or meter readers at GRU due to their complete lack of utility-related job skills. Thanks for the laugh, though. By the way, this is all the legacy of Poe and Hanrahan and their biomass snake-handling eco-religion.

    • Jazzman, I’ve noticed most of your comments state that those of us who don’t approve of the job the mayor/city commissioners have done over the past decade or so must “hate Gainesville.” Stop presuming to know what we think or feel. I do NOT hate Gainesville, quite the opposite, actually. I graduated from UF in the early 80’s, and loved every minute of my time here. (As a side note, I never registered to vote here, only in my home town.) Twenty years ago I moved back. I purchased a home here, raised my child here, and have participated in local and UF events for years. I love this city, county and community. It used to be a fun, safe, affordable place where I was proud to live. Boy, have things changed. The crime has become ridiculous and I struggle now to keep up with the cost of living (utilities, taxes). The roads are terrible, the traffic is awful, and none of these issues are being addressed. Instead our local leadership is spending our money (GRU’s) to fund foreign travel for outgoing commissioners, to create new and unnecessary positions within the city government (all overpaid), narrowing roadways that are already overburdened, funding an unsuccessful homeless shelter, hiring outside lawyers because they don’t like what the City Attorney has told them, and on and on. Regardless of party affiliation, any reasonably intelligent individual can see that those responsible for leading this wonderful city have driven it into the ground. They are fiscally inept and have little common sense. I don’t hate Gainesville, I hate what incompetent, irresponsible, unaccountable, entitled city leaders have done to it. FYI, I am not a registered Republican and don’t plan to be. This is more than red vs blue politics. Someone had to do something, because this mayor and these commissioners are not competent to run the city I love. I am aware this board is only stepping in to address the ongoing mismanagement and financial abuse of GRU, but it’s a step in the right direction and it will free up time for city staff leadership to devote to other issues that are also in dire need of attention.

  • I moved here from Miami 3 years ago. I was shocked at how openly Marxist Gainesville city leaders are. I’ve seriously debated moving back to Miami. Maybe this is the Pandora’s Box that needed to be opened to keep me here.

  • I remember when republicans were against big Government….now they all cheer for it.

  • Thank you for great reporting Jennifer.
    We came to Gainesville in ’84, expecting higher costs than in MD, but GRU utilities were low.
    With ever expanding taxable private property, original intent of a locally owned utility could & should have been preserved.
    Our mayor et al of the 2000s surely imposed gross disservice to consumers.
    UF doesn’t even use GRU, but ignorant student voting has greater influence over unincorporated area GRU rates than those tax-paying voters prevented representation by design.
    I don’t know if our State’s move will do everything that everyone wants, but I pray this is a step in the right direction for quality of life for all in Alachua County. It’s high time.

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