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Business Advocacy

Competitive Energy Solutions

November 25, 2013

After more than seven months of study involving dozens of private and public sector engagement meetings, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and Council for Economic Outreach has released its top policy recommendations designed to help Gainesville become more competitive and lower utility costs for area businesses.

The 77-page report, compiled via Energy Study Group research and analysis, focuses on four (4) specific policy recommendations to help Gainesville remain a competitively-advantaged community for sustainable economic development and small business growth as it relates to overall energy costs. The volunteer committee, comprised of 12 business and civic leaders, was headed up by former Gainesville Mayor and State Representative N. David Flagg and Dr. David A. Denslow, Jr., a retired University of Florida economist.

The four recommendations outlined in the report involve Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) and are as follows:

  1. Peer Utility Cost Comparison Recommendation: Benchmark to Peer Mean/Average
  2. Fuel Adjustment Levelization Fund Recommendation: Link Cap to Fuel Budget
  3. General Fund Transfer Recommendation: Remain Below 6-Year Low of 9.0%
  4. Governance Recommendation: Create Appointed Utility Authority

“These reasonable policy recommendations are designed to help Gainesville remain a competitive community for sustainable economic development as it relates to overall energy costs,” said Mitch Glaeser, Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors.  “As a cornerstone asset, GRU supports essential City services and would benefit from a different governance structure and not a different owner. GRU plays an important role in our community and should not be sold.”

“Under the impressive leadership of N. David Flagg, former Mayor of Gainesville and State Representative, and Dr. David A. Denslow, Jr., retired University of Florida economist, our 12-member Energy Study Group took a deep dive to understand the dynamic environment GRU operates within,” further added Mr. Glaeser.

Energy Study Group members included Charles W. Anchors, Jr., North Florida Regional Healthcare; Dean R. Cheshire, Cheshire Companies; Ken Cornell, Bosshardt Realty; Rich Blaser, Infinite Energy; Chuck Clemons, Santa Fe College; Rosemary F. Fagler, Plum Creek; Mike Giampietro, Generation Wy; Joel Islam, Florida Food Service; Perry C. McGriff, Jr., McGriff, Fletcher, Johnson Insurance; and the Reverend Dr. N. LaMonte Newsome.

“The Gainesville region is the heart of Florida and is a great place to live, work and play.  GRU is a vital asset for the City of Gainesville and essential in positioning this region as the global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity,” said Tim Giuliani, President & CEO, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and Council for Economic Outreach.  “We can promote local economic growth and prosperity by ensuring businesses and entrepreneurs have a competitive business climate.”

The report cites 5 cities in Florida with appointed utility authority governance structures and finds they are all more competitive than Gainesville in commercial and industrial customer class electricity costs.

Jacksonville, Orlando, Kissimmee, Fort Pierce, and New Smyrna Beach, for example, each have an appointed utility authority. The report finds commercial and industrial customer class electricity costs in these cities are significantly lower than in Gainesville.

Additionally, a utility cost comparison was conducted and compared GRU to municipal and investor-owned utilities (IOUs) inside Florida and in select cities throughout the United States.

In the data sets presented, GRU electricity rates for commercial rate class customers ranked among the highest in Florida and GRU average electricity rates for industrial rate class customers ranked among the highest in the United States.

To view the full Chamber Energy Report and its corresponding PowerPoint, please click the links to the right.

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