Biomass Concerns Dominate Candidate Forum for Gainesville City Commission
Published February 18th, 2014
GAINESVILLE -- With less than a month to go before voters in Gainesville head to the polls, the candidates running in this year's city elections faced numerous questions about the city's new biomass power plant Monday night.
About 50 residents attended Monday's Gainesville City Commission candidate forum which was organized by the county's Democratic Black Caucus.
The forum was dominated primarily by questions about the city's rising electricity rates.
Craig Carter -- a candidate for the District 3 seat -- blasted the current commission for ignoring the effect high utility rates are having on the city.
"We're in a situation here where we can't afford our electric bills," Carter said. "We don't look attractive to some businesses, we don't look attractive to move in here."
Carter's opponent -- incumbent commissioner Susan Bottcher -- defended the city's decision to venture into biomass power, citing the then-high price of natural gas.
"It wasn't until after the contract was ratified that that's when natural gas prices plummeted," said Bottcher.
But some biomass opponents questioned the validity of Bottcher's statement, considering natural gas prices began falling several months before the City Commission approved the final biomass contract in May 2009.
Eight of the 10 candidates running were in attendance at the forum Monday night.
The city election is scheduled to take place on March 11.
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