fbpx

Over 5,000 people have not received GRU bills for November – what should they do?

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A public records request sent to Alachua Chronicle by Angela Casteel has revealed that 5,166 Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) customers had not received bills for November, as of December 7. GRU has not responded to a request from Alachua Chronicle for an explanation, but they sent out a message to customers this afternoon.

In that message, GRU explained that sometimes they need to estimate usage when they can’t get an in-person reading of a meter. The message continues: “We have safeguards built into the system to prevent customers from being overbilled if their estimated usage is higher than their actual usage. When the system detects this, it automatically ‘locks’ the account and won’t send a bill until a billing representative can make sure the usage is correct.”

Because of staffing shortages, fewer meters are being read in person, more bills are being estimated, and more accounts are being “locked,” causing some customers to receive no bill at all for that billing cycle.

GRU has pledged that customers “will not be charged a late fee or receive any other penalties if GRU did not bill them” and that once they receive a bill, they will have 21 days to pay. Customers who need further assistance should call 352-334-3434. 

GRU recommends paying an amount similar to your typical monthly bill to avoid a double bill for December.

GRU lists the following steps they are taking to avoid issues like this in the future:

  • We are finishing a long-overdue update of our Customer Information System, which will enable us to operate more efficiently and reliably. We expect the new system to be operational in the spring.
  • We are replacing or retrofitting all meters with digital meters that can be read remotely, which will eliminate the need for estimated reads.
  • We continue to hire meter readers to cut down on estimates.
  • Poe looks like even more of a fool for firing Ed Bielarski now that it’s clear his replacement is not up to the job. Smooth move, Lauren.

  • If they would have paid to hire meter readers instead of doubling their own salaries the public wouldn’t be in this predicament.

    Knuckleheads who voted for the idiots, they know who they are – you’re as much to blame as they are.

    • Yep! “Because of staffing shortages”…staffing shortages! With city hall bloated double with NYC type salaries and Commission salaries doubled. How dumb do they think we are? Pretty dumb really since some in our community voted them in.

  • What’s has taken so long??? What are charges for those new meters to read digitally? Do we pay for new meters personally in addition to the raised prices that Gainesville R-Us [GRU] IS already is using to offset those new meters AND the costs of many prior blunders?

  • Readers….please do not relent and give into the GRU payment plan they offer ; the hardship pay plan fee thing they have and continue to offer the community. I’ve heard it’s malarkey aka do not kiss the blarney stone.

  • GRU is spending millions ($60mil. or more) on remote reading hardware and software and have not hired permanent meter readers for several years now. They got this crap approved even though GRU is millions in debt because of the wood burner and the solar program that has destroyed the utility. This “keep up with the Joneses” mentality is ruining this city. City commissioners want to be like failure California, it is pathetic.

    • I used to work there and I am also a customer of GRU (not happy about that). Bielarski wasn’t really all that good for GRU, he created a lot of useless upper management positions and we couldn’t get more tech positions because they said they couldn’t afford it. But they sure could pay all those high paying salaries. When he left there were a lot of better changes happening. More old school management, which was better.

      • The prior general manager, Kurtz, ran a solid ship.
        Then the brainless zealots, Hanrahan and Poe blocked out citizens input and went ahead with the building of the Biomass plant then the subsequent
        purchase. This along with the GRU funds transfer to the City, has caused this mess we are now in.
        Poe should NEVER be elected to public office again.

        • Poe or radical dissident Adrian Hayes-“Step-dad Santos” shouldn’t even be allowed to be head dog catcher in Waldo! Have wasted millions on stupid ideas (free hi-speed internet to the masses (LOL) Biomass, drifter draw dignity village, huge equity and inclusion salary increases, etc). They need to move so we don’t have to look at their sick faces ever again!

      • Many, many people went to the commission meeting and spoke in favor of Bielarski even if you didn’t personally like him because your department didn’t get enough funding or whatever. Nobody can please all of the people all the time.

        • I think Bielarski did an ‘ok’ job with GRU but he was too top heavy and too “affirmative action”. That said I think he did try to improve GRU and would have made a good mayor for Gainesville, better than what we got, for sure.

    • Closer to a billion in debt actually. They borrowed $750 million 4 years ago to buy the biomass plant and sent the company’s owners to their own private island paradise! This is on top of the millions GRU already owed and has rolled over several times in last 7 years instead of trying to pay some of it off (pay it off? Can’t do that, we’ll have less to spend right now on our new ideas and ourselves (trips, salaries, new office furniture, etc).

    • Closer to a billion in debt actually. They borrowed $750 million 4 years ago to buy the biomass plant and sent the company’s owners to their own private island paradise! This is on top of the millions GRU already owed and has rolled over several times in last 7 years instead of trying to pay some of it off (pay it off? Can’t do that, we’ll have less to spend right now on our new ideas and ourselves (trips, salaries, new office furniture, etc).

      • When you figure it out with the interest paid to the bond holders, isn’t it closer to $2.5 billion? And some of that is variable-rate interest which will only continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

    • Closer to a billion in debt than millions. The financed $750 MILLION in new debt to buy the biomass smokestack tree killer in 2017, just 5 years ago. Before and after they have rolled over/refinanced debt into
      new packages rather that bite the bullet and actually pay off some debt. I’m afraid they’ve mortgaged us to the hilt for the next 40 + years. Why didn’t they get approved financial statements out on time to the state Comptroller? Duh?? Go figure!

    • They hire meter readers every week. 5 come in, work a few days and never come back. I can name 10 or more managers or higher at GRU who started off as meter readers. Today’s workforce aint what it used to be.

  • I think I’m the first person to call GRU…when I got that letter, I called them first thing. The representative told me they had not gotten any other calls. I had 6 new smart meters installed by them last month…2 meters were read
    Correctly somehow, 3 of the last for were remote meter previously and the new smart meters didn’t work, the last meter just has some security lights on it and had a historic bill of like $50/mo that was $260 last month…It’s impossible for the $260.
    I thought it was just me…thanks for the article Alachua Chronicle because GRU was doing a cover-up and denying it when I called…they said “they couldn’t read the meter because of a locked gate”…what BS.
    They Will probably estimate my bill at double at what it should be….

    • In my experience the estimates are directly taken from either prior years or prior months (I don’t know how they choose, but probably year for cooling/heating associated costs) so for instance my estimate for gas this past month was nearly 4x what I actually used this year because I believe it was estimated from last year’s November which was considerably colder (and/or I had the heat set higher).

  • This Billing chaos is by design and politics , once again.Why you should say no to smart meters
    The chief concern of smart meter critics, besides the cost, is the potential privacy concerns that come with a household’s data being transmitted to a supplier. Energy firms are adamant that only they can see your data and that information cannot be passed on to a third party without the customer’s explicit permission.
    What entitey could survive the cashflow interruption GRU lives in. Fire the City commisioners and remove them from any oversight, Cut thier Kickback by 50%, Bring in new GRU management or file for insolvency and sell it so someone can have a fresh start. Get GRU and Gainesville off the taxpayers backs.

  • Twice now, I’ve received a bill for 4 or 5 times the normal usage. The first time, they removed the charges, citing an databentering error. This last time, they claimed that my meter had been estimated for a few months and this was from an actual physical reading. My bill is normally $90 – $130 (absolute max). My bill was nearly $500. There is literally no way that my little home could have possibly used that amount. They refused to audit and refused to remove it. I’m apparently supposed to be overjoyed by the prospect of the new meters that will send my info every 15 minutes.
    They came to turn off my power because I wanted my system checked but they are refusing…forcing me to pay the nearly $500 bill to keep my power on.
    Crooked AF!!!!

  • Won’t it be hard to hire human meter readers if GRU plans to eliminate their jobs anyway? Catch-22…

  • In February, 2021, the Gainesville City Commission unanimously approved GRU’s request on Feb. 4 to move forward with a plan to install Smart Meters, or Advanced Metering Infrastructure, at the service addresses of GRU electric, gas and water customers. GRU will install the wireless meters in several phases over the next two to three years. — See the complete bulletin at GRUINTHENEWS(dot)COM

  • Smart Meters — The Household Device That Spies on You 24/7 – The data from smart meters reveal far more than you might think — and could even be used against you to control your individual energy use or, one day, to help ensure “net zero” compliance. See this post at Children’s Health Defense – childrenshealthdefense(dot)org/defender/smart-meters-surveillance-control-energy-use-emf-cola/

  • If you are not a member of boycott GRU on fb already consider joining. I admin the group and try to keep people up to date, organize meetings etc. at a meeting on Wednesday evening I made sure people knew this exact information, since one of the commissioners had already divulged the information to me. Funny during Tuesday’s interview with the SKY they got back such a vague statement saying they know about the customers not getting November bills and are working to fix it. I told Gisselle at that point that if a commissioner could tell me then why can’t David warm do his dang job and give the actual information? This blew up to me going in to the UAB and addressing Mr. Cunningham telling him if a commissioner can give me this same information then the customers deserve to know what is going on. Friday that email went out. Maybe they can actually work on communicating the issues. One lady I believe to be older has already offered to go read meters. I would too as a contractor that can bring my boys. If y’all go into the recordings for the UAB on Thursday you will see where they talk about going to a meter reading company… but no mention of that in the email.

    • I won’t even consider boycotting GRU (I like electricity and clean water), but firing and stop paying the City Commissioners would be a YES. They are the real culprits.

  • I didn’t get a bill, called twice to ask about it, and the rep acted surprised the first time and said I would hear from their billing department in 24 hrs. Never heard back. Called them again a week later. GRU rep said there was a problem with billing, I would be charged a late fee and the bill would eventually arrive. Still no bill for November. After hearing from other people who’ve had enormous bills lately, I’m more than a little nervous about what the bill will actually say when it eventually arrives.
    It sounds like they are just making up numbers and expecting customers to pay whatever figure they think we should pay that day, without objective data to support it.
    GRU used to do its job very well for this community, and there are still some great employees there.
    Hanrahan, Poe and their ilk have just about destroyed its reputation and the trust that many in our community had in our public utility.
    What a shame… 😞

    • Go girl, you’re on a roll! Queen Pee Hanrahan had the entire commission voting to comply with the ludicrous Kyoto Protocol when the US never even agreed to it. That’s why you paid $40 – $50 million per year for power from it for 4 years or so before buying it and paying $750 million to them. That’s nearly $1 billion to scam artists who never sold or built another one. They sold one to TX before ours but only got them for 20 yr contract instead of 30 year s on ours. GNV was played like a harp with Queen P Hanrahan and new commissioner and lap dog Poe helping at every turn.

  • As I live in the City of Alachua, I only have a GRU natural gas bill. But I will photograph my gas meter readings, calculate and keep track monthly. I did get my November bill.

    These folks are not the only ones to track. I recently recovered $275 from my cell phone service. Your cable or satellite providers should also be reviewed for over charging. It’s a wide open universe for companies to sneak in charges.

  • Some ideas:
    1. Ed Bielarski is unemployed and has extensive Utility experience. Maybe he could be hired as a meter reader?
    2. If the communications staff can’t respond to citizens and communicate, maye David Warm could be temporarily reassigned to read meters?
    3. For that matter, the bloated C-Suite leaders who really don’t do much other than sit in meetings and make excuses could walk a meter route or tow.
    4. Meter reading is better than Weight Watchers so the new mayor could easily get 10,000 steps a day walking some routes.
    5. If you want to hire meter readers, $16.81 per hour to start is too low for a temp job. There are easier jobs that pay more. Especially if you want to drug test employees, $16.81 is way too low.

    • Every other type of GRU employee should have to read meters for one day a month instead of doing their normal job. Including the executive staff.

  • We live in SE Gainesville, in low income housing, on a fixed monthly income. Believe me when I say, we are not overly worried about GRU sending us an accurate monthly bill.

  • My last GRU bill indicates the meter was read on September 27th, today is December 28th! That is 3 months of usage that is due, fortunately I can afford to pay 3 months or 6 months at a time. I really feel sorry for those that can’t! I’ve had this account for 46 years, I live in the Duck Pond and can see the people out reading meters each month, so I don’t buy the staffing reason. That is just an excuse for poor management.

  • >