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GRU loses bid for UF’s Central Energy Project

GRU General Manager Ed Bielarski speaks to the Gainesville City Commission on November 4, 2021

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) has learned that they were not shortlisted for the University of Florida’s Central Energy Project. The university had requested Statements of Qualification (SOQ) for the purpose of shortlisting vendors to design, construct, operate, and maintain a proposed campus central energy plant to provide steam, chilled water, and electricity to the campus; construct a thermal piping distribution loop; and construct an electrical substation.

The short list, issued on December 16, includes Gator Campus Energy, Gator Campus Utility Partners, Gator Energy Services, and Swamp Power Partners. None of the companies are registered in Florida, according to Sunbiz. Gator Campus Energy, LLC is registered in Delaware.

At the November 4 Gainesville City Commission meeting, GRU General Manager Ed Bielarski told the commission that GRU’s existing campus project, the South Energy Center, would be the prototype for the new project: “It’s been a very successful project for us. I think it bodes well of what we can do for the University of Florida.” He said the SOQ process would cost about $200,000. Commissioners were not generally in favor of building a fossil fuel plant, but they said this could be an opportunity to make sure the plant is clean, earn some revenue, and possibly influence future energy decisions at the university.

Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker was in favor of the project, saying, “When we win—and I’m already claiming it—when we win, we will have taken one more step closer to improving our relationship with UF and delivering to the citizens exactly what they need.”

In an email message to the Gainesville City Commission and the GRU leadership team after the shortlist was announced, Bielarski said, “I am extremely disappointed the the University has not given the utility the opportunity to continue, given our success with the South Energy Center, and the City/University partnership that is often spoken of.” 

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Local attorney and former Florida Public Service Commissioner Nathan Skop commented, “Although GRU had a fiduciary duty to pursue the UF Central Plant opportunity, this incremental revenue stream probably wouldn’t make a noticeable difference in lowering GRU electric rates and may have resulted in GRU issuing additional debt. The bright side of not being shortlisted is that GRU doesn’t have to spend another $600,000 of GRU customer money pursuing a UF contract that had a low probability of capture to begin with.”

  • Nathan has regretted is decision to vote Yes and approval of biomass plant permit when he was on the Public Service Commission. The vote was 3 to 2 for approval. Nathan has worked hard to expose what GRU, through the direction of City of Gainesville Commission, does to continue to have very high rates, misuse funding for personal interest projects and continue to operate a biomass plant that is not in any way renewable energy.

    Leaving in Turkey Creek, we are enjoying the higher CO2 rates compared to natural gas or even coal, smelling the decomposing wood chips that they occasionally spray with agents that may be even more harmful and absorbing the additional overflow of calling tower water into Turkey Creek, Pinkinson Creek and San Felasco Hammock State Preserve.

    • GRU customers are very fortunate having Nathan Skop exposing the inner-workings of GRU. He understands the issues & challenges! All GRU customers owe Nathan Skop a giant Thanks!

  • All of the deranged drama centered around firing Bielarski and the “solution” of hiring a Director of Diversity probably didn’t help to raise GRU’s credibility as a serious utility company. It’s run by people with obviously unsound minds, and it’s all on video.

  • University of Florida leadership obviously has more intelligence than the people who keep voting for the Gainesville leaders who keep raping the city residents.

    The city is just seeking another entity to try and bail them out of the financial disaster they’ve put themselves…US, in.

    Let’s go Lauren Poe and Co!

  • Doing business with a hyper political entity subject to hysterical forces given enormous influence is foolhardy, in a business sense.

  • Obviously they know something we don’t know, yet. GRU could be bought out by Duke or other *solvent* utility for $1. Then Tally will merge the city with the county. Taxes and bills will be cut 50%, thank you DeSantis 🙂

  • The disillusioned Gainesville City Commissioners, GRU and staff need to wake up and face reality. They are apparently to a point of no return is regards to the financial demise of GRU and lack of sound, prudent management. Who would buy a Utility in it’s current position of a budgeted, unheard up 25% debt burden. No one. The Goose that laid the Golden Egg for Gainesville is gone, gone, gone. It’s time to get GRU off the ratepayers and taxpayers backs and wallets. How can what they have done to this community be legal with no accountability . Hopefully the State of Florida can step in and do something. I think this is uncharted waters as there does not appear to be another example of such an orchestrated ,politically driven agenda force a Utility being driven into insolvency by a its leaders and decision makers.

    • Best one yet! Of course GRU lost. Gov contracts require bidders be responsive and responsible to the request. The State auditor’s recent reporting of the extreme debt levels, coupled with the city’s toilet style financial reporting would disqualify GRU, especially with all the shenanigans over trying to fire the GM and the ridiculousness and idiocy of the ignorant commission! They GRU proposal was DEAD ON ARRIVAL!

  • As long as Howland and Chestnut both support the Vaxxination Murder of Kindergartern Children, then there shall always be election integrity, regardless of Kim Barton’s scams

  • Mass psychogenic illness (MPI), also called mass sociogenic illness, mass psychogenic disorder, epidemic hysteria, or mass hysteria, involves the spread of illness symptoms through a population where there is no infectious agent responsible for contagion

    oops, but there is a vaxx killing people and zombies following protocols

  • The evaluation panel could
    1) look at who owns the utility and how they behave (city commission clowns who propose all kinds of stupid spending then consistently raise taxes to cover it when they are near bankruptcy)
    2) look at the personal failures and lies of every city commissioner, not one individual success up there (Poe canned from teaching high schoolers in dual enrollment-claiming to be economics professor- with a basic history degree-city bio still claims he works there) and (Hayes: claimed financial knowledge but only position was board of Career Source Fin rep that he ran to bankruptcy in 5 months before defying state administrators!)

    https://alachuachronicle.com/careersource-of-north-central-florida-accused-of-improper-use-of-funds-conflicts-of-interest/

    5 others up there too (Ward: votes against guns but faced down hired help with one)

    https://alachuachronicle.com/harvey-ward-ethics-complaint-has-legal-sufficiency-according-to-florida-ethics-commission/

    Clowns in force. Vote out to never again have ANY elected office. Get real jobs for once in your failed lives!

  • I guess having a climate change officer, diversity officer and very porous financial statements wasn’t what they were looking for. Shucks, they tried.

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