Gainesville, Florida, Chamber of Commerce restates pledge to support Gainesville Renewable Energy Center's 100-MW biomass power station, but with revisions related to utility's strategies to lower impact of projected rate hikes on ratepayers

LOS ANGELES , August 28, 2012 () –

The Chamber of Commerce in Gainesville, Florida, has revised its policy supporting a 100-megawatt biomass power station after speaking with the local utility on projected rate hikes and its strategies for lowering the impact on ratepayers, reported The Gainesville Sun on Aug. 27.

The revisions were made and approved in a unanimous vote by the chamber in mid-August and communicated in an Aug. 16 letter to Bob Hunzinger, general manager of Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), which is building the biomass power plant.

In the revisions, the chamber said it supports keeping electricity rates low by having the GRU and the Gainesville City Commission implement “effective cost-mitigation strategies,” but the letter did not reveal what those strategies might be, The Gainesville Sun reported.

The chamber wants the rate impact to be limited to the prior forecast of US$10.56 per 1,000 kilowatt hours, said Michael Gallagher, chairman of the chamber. The decision to revise the chamber’s policy on the biomass power plant came after many meetings with GRU, he said.

The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center LLC biomass power plant is currently under construction.

The chamber will continue to support the project but also must consider its members and address their concerns about the potentially negative impacts of the projected utility rate hikes once the power plant is operating, stated Gallagher in the letter, reported The Gainesville Sun.

Local companies will not be able to compete if their electricity rates are higher than their competitors in other north central Florida communities with competitive rates, Gallagher said.

In a comparison report for July, the GRU had the highest commercial rates in Florida and was the second- or third-highest for other types of users, according to the Florida Electric Association.

Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe commented that he did not see how the chamber’s revised statement is significantly different from one it previously made involving its stand on keeping utility rates affordable, The Gainesville Sun reported.

The primary source of this article is The Gainesville Sun, Gainesville, Florida, on Aug. 27, 2012.


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