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“GRU has just about the highest rates in Florida”: Proposed GRU rate increase could have customers paying roughly $7 more a month

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 11:33 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Gainesville Regional Utility customers need to watch how much water and electricity they use because rates are rising again. However, the rate hike won’t take effect until the fiscal year 2022. This rate change proposal follows a sudden increase in GRU expenses following a significant downgrade of their debt.

The average GRU customer will see a $7 increase thanks to a 7% rate hike for the fiscal year 2022. Each year after that, until the year 2027, the rate increase would be another 3%. However, that is only for electricity.

“Costs go up. We all know that it costs more to do everything because inflation is real. It is not out of control inflation but just basic inflation. Rather than having a big political fight every year about GRU rates, what may cities do is and utilities do is just include a baseline inflation increase as an expected as part of the budget,” explained Gainesville Commissioner Harvey Ward.

There would be no rate increase for water, while wastewater would jump 5% every year from 2022 until 2027. Gas customers rates would increase 3% in 2022. There would be a 1% increase in 2023 and no other rate increases until 2027.

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Commissioner Ward said knowing this potential rate increase could help people prepare.

“It is a realistic thing that people can budget for and be prepared for, and that keep us from having what amounts to a protracted argument about rates,” explained Commissioner Ward.

Commissioner Gail Johnson voted against this motion while residents at the meeting and over the phone expressed concerns with the proposal.

“GRU has just about the highest rates in Florida. Now because of gross mismanagement, those rates may go well higher if the commission approves GRU’s proposed rate hike,” said Gainesville resident Bruce Frendhal.

Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker was absent from the budget meeting.

RELATED STORY: GRU rates could increase as Gainesville commissioners vote to lower General Fund Transfer

Commissioners also requested that city staff research a plan to help those who need utility assistance. That information will be presented at the July 17th meeting.

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