Multi-service utility Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU)
started out small a century ago, but has been gaining ground ever
since. The company (now the fifth largest municipal electric
utility in Florida) is the sole utilities provider in Gainesville
and surrounding areas in Alachua County. The municipal utility
distributes electric, water, wastewater, natural gas and
telecommunications services to approximately 93,000 retail and
wholesale customers. GRU has interests in power generation
facilities that give it more than 600 MW of capacity. It
also offers internet and other communications services. GRU
gets the bulk of its revenues from its electric utility
The multi-utility is pushing conservation and green energy as a
way to increase operational efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and
help its customers save money. In order to help
meet the state's clean energy requirements GRU
installs photovoltaic panels on selected buildings, and provides a
solar water heating rebate program for its customers. It even
offers customers a supply of woodchips (a by-product of the routine
trimming done by GRU's Vegetation Management Department to reduce
the number of tree-related electrical outages).
In 2008 the company became the first utility in Florida to
offer irrigation rebates to save water, and in 2009 the first in
the US to offer a Solar Feed-in-tariff to stimulate investment in
installing solar-photovoltaic systems.
In 2010 GRU received government clearances to begin
construction of a 100 MW biomass-fueled power plant in Gainesville.
(The plant is scheduled for completion in 2013).
In 2010 a rate increase and a cold winter and a
warmer-than-usual summer (which spiked demand) drove up revenues,
despite a slight decrease in actual customers.
As part of its ongoing green energy push, in 2011 GRU was
offering its customers a 6% annual interest loan for pre-approved
items, including certified (ENERGY STAR)
refrigerators, efficient central air conditioning systems, and
solar photovoltaic systems.
The company celebrated its centenary in 2012.
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