NAACP Concerns Over Biomass Plant
GAINESVILLE - Gainesville Regional Utilities customers will see changes to their utility bills in the 2014 fiscal year-- Based on the proposed budget approved by the Gainesville City Commission. The multi-million dollar biomass plant behind the raise is being questioned by some residents in District 1.
These price changes approved by the city commission are expected to go into effect next month-- following ordinance approval.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People says minorities constitute a large percentage of the lower income population in Gainesville. This is why they set up a meeting and gave all kinds of residents an opportunity to ask questions.
"Right now, I am upset," said Herbert Scott Jr. A Gainesville resident concerned with the upcoming utility rate increase. He added, "The current energy we are using is not broken, why should we fix it? I can't understand this you know?"
There is a 7.3 percent increase across all GRU services, mostly due to the new renewable generation resource-- Biomass energy. This is an issue the NAACP is worried about. Back in 2010 the former president of the local NAACP chapter wrote a letter on behalf of the organization to former Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, asking for the city not to proceed with their biomass plans. A request he says was ignored.
"The decision is not about asking the city commission to stop the building of something... It may how else can we go about making sure that the citizens who are impacted by these high rates are protected," Dr. Michael Bowie former NAACP Alachua County President said.
The meeting took place in one of the oldest African American churches in Gainesville, the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church. However it did not just address the concerns of the black community but the whole city.
"Not only in east Gainesville but all over the city, there are a lot of people that are on fixed income. And 10 dollars more a month can be the difference between buying medication or not... So all those things are very important to us," said Evelyn Foxx NAACP Alachua County, President.
The GRU representatives who were in the meeting talked about programs for to help low-income residents, such as: LEEP. For more details click here.
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