Gainesville residents address their utility concerns at “GRU in the neighborhood” event

Resident asks GRU staff member why Clay Electric has lower utility rates than GRU, pointing out...
Resident asks GRU staff member why Clay Electric has lower utility rates than GRU, pointing out the differences between private and public utility companies.(wcjb)
Published: Nov. 6, 2021 at 4:13 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Some Gainesville residents addressed their concerns with utility bills at a “GRU in the Neighborhood” event today.

One woman who is on the utility advisory board said she helped create the current proposed energy policy.

“We created an energy policy about a year ago we wanted to do some community engagement around that policy, and then COVID hit,” said Carla Lewis, a member of the utility advisory board.

Lewis said Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe suggested the board hold this meeting.

She said the board put out an online survey, but realized the people most affected by things like rate changes, missed out on completing the survey.

“We wanted to create the opportunity for them to get the same education, weigh in on the energy policy so that we can get their input and do our due diligence at reaching the community,” said Lewis.

GRU staff answered questions from community members on everything from rising rates, to the transition to 100% renewable energy.

One Archer resident said she thinks it’s important officials know how proposed solar sites can negatively impact some communities.

“We have to look at transitioning justly. It should not be one side of an area, one community, that’s impacted solely,” said Gerie Crawford, resident who attended the meeting.

Crawford said one of her biggest concerns is making sure environmental justice issues are considered more closely.

“I do think it was unfortunate that none of the city commission was here, and they were invited to be here, just to hear form the citizens themselves,” she said.

GRU staff also highlighted the differences between a private utility company and a public owned utility, like GRU.

One official said higher rates are a result of Gainesville being a leader in renewable energy.

To see a draft of the proposed energy policy, click here.

There will be another meeting on November 20th in the southwest part of Gainesville. A time and location have not been set yet.

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