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More GRU rate increases to come in light of natural gas price spike

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 11:22 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A natural gas price spike is calling for another increase in GRU rates, following the previous seven percent increase.

Some GRU customers soon may make some noise over more rate increases.

“The last thing we want to do is to shut customers off or incur bills that they can’t pay,” GRU Manager Ed Bielarski said.

Related story: GRU customers may soon face another rate increase, Bielarski email suggests

Increases are on the way on the fuel adjustment portion of customer’s bills. The charge makes up more than 20 percent of the statement because of an on-going rise in natural gas prices.

“The fund went down because we pulled more out in payments then we anticipated,” Bielarski added.

The fund he’s referring to is the fuel levelization fund. So, they are raising rates to cover costs GRU has already paid.

The cost right now for fuel adjustment is 3¢ per kilowatt-hour and Bielarski is not sure how much that number will rise yet.

“There’s more natural gas being used so a lot of the pipelines have been shut down,” Bielarski explained. “A lot of the production facilities have been shut down. So it’s a supply and demand issue. It’s increased three times. So, that’s a big hurt on our fuel prices and it’s a cost that we absolutely have to incur to run our natural gas units. Along with that the coal price has gone up, most fossil fuels are going up.”

TV20′s Camille Syed spoke with Bielarski about several topics from the Mayor suggesting he step down, to the city’s former vaccine mandate’s impact on employees. You can watch the full interview below.

The increase comes after residents have already been asked to kick out an extra $7 or more to pay their monthly rates, with more increases every year for the next few years.

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

The Utility Advisory Board is working on a plan to help reach out to the community in light of these increases.

“We have an energy policy for the city we are trying to create, such that when you get into these situations where something looks unusual or something’s going to be a change, something costs more...then we’ll actually have a policy to guide us forward,” board member Wendell Porter explained.

Bielarski said after the controversy surrounding the city of Gainesville and GRU, they are working on improving communication with residents.

“To make people aware of all the things that we’re doing,” Bielarski added.

The increases are expected to take effect in Nov. or Dec. 2021.

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