Gainesville City Commission votes to buy biomass plant from GREC

Gainesville City Commissioners have decided to pull the trigger and the people who own the controversial biomass plant are getting a powerball-sized payday.

The negotiation to buy a controversial bio mass plant has been in the works for several months with a price tag of 750 million dollars.

"Price is just one variable. The other part of the variable is interest rate and the other variable is the vehicle by which you use to get the financing,” said Edward Bielarski Jr. of Gainesville Regional Utilities.

With interest included, the final cost would be 1.2 billion dollars.

In a 5-2 vote, Gainesville City Commissioners decided to purchase the plant, a deal some say could potentially save them millions of dollars in the long.

The city will be buying the facility from the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center.

"We'll be able to lower rates to GRU customers by 8 to 10 percent on their bill which is about 27 to 30 million dollars a year, savings going directly to GRU customers,” said Adrian Hayes-Santos, District IV Commissioner

While some city leaders are for the purchase, others were not.

"It is just so annoying, it gives me a heart burn. It's what's driving this community crazy because we see it coming out of our checkbook everyday,” said Commissioner Harvey Budd.

The public also came out to voice their opinions about the potential purchase.

"The needy, the rate payers rather than helping the greedy, GREC and its partners. in simple terms, I'd like to say to you or urge you please just don't do it,” said a Gainesville resident.

Despite the controversy, the city commission voted to buy the plant.

The purchase will be funded with bonds GRU will float.

Commissioners also say GRU customers eventually will pay higher rates before the rates go down.