The GRU is not on the shortlist of competitors for the construction of a UF power plant


Gainesville Regional Public Services won’t get a contract, he was looking to build a factory to supply most of the University of Florida with electricity.

The GRU hoped that the income from the project could help stabilize customer bills in the years to come.

GRU and Duke Energy, the two local power companies, were not among the shortlist of companies that submitted proposals to build the power plant on Gale Lemerand Drive.

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The City of Gainesville Commission recently hired consultants to help the city’s utility company submit a proposal to UF to build the new plant. They included: a financial partner, a law firm and an engineering and construction contractor.

“They have been kept, but there will be no work to be done,” utility spokesman Dave Warm said in a text message on Monday.

The university expects to save more than $ 16 million per year in energy costs with the new plant, she said in a recent statement.

But the natural gas-fired power plant that UF approved would be a step backwards for green energy policy, student protesters and environmentalists complained.

City commissioner David Arreola said on Monday he did not want the city to get the contract. He said UF should, at the very least, first assess renewable energy proposals, such as solar power, to provide electricity to UF.

“I’m against any new fossil fuel infrastructure, period,” he said. “I think the idea of ​​UF was initially about 20 to 30 years old. We have done significant scientific research and studies that have shown for 50 years that we need to move away from fossil fuels. Here we are, 50 years later, still building fossil fuel infrastructure. “

In an email dated December 16, the city commissioners were informed that the GRU was not a finalist for the project.

“Unfortunately, I have received a notification that the GRU has not been shortlisted by UF and will not proceed to the proposal phase of the central energy project,” GRU Director General Ed Bielarski informed. commissioners.

He added that he was “extremely disappointed that the university did not give the power company the opportunity to continue, given our success with the South Energy Center and the often talked about City / University partnership. “.

“When I know more, I will communicate it to all of you,” Bielarski said.

Bielarski, who could not be reached for comment last week, attached an email from a UF official explaining that the GRU was not on the shortlist, but the UF official The university is not disclosing details as to why.

Lisa Deal, purchasing manager at UF, said in the email that the university’s selection committee “took considerable time to read and assess all of the responses received.”

“However, the response submitted by your group was not selected to move forward in the process,” she said.

The deal could not be reached for a comment.

Mayor Lauren Poe said in a text message Monday that city officials were disappointed to learn that GRU was not up for the contract.

“While I was disappointed that we weren’t able to continue our power supply partnership with UF, we knew it would be a highly competitive process,” said Poe. “We will continue to work with the university on new opportunities to help them achieve their goal of 100% renewable energy and a carbon neutral campus.”

In June, UF’s board of trustees approved the power plant project to the dismay of some green energy advocates who want the university to consider renewable energy instead, particularly solar power.

The campus currently receives steam from the Duke Energy cogeneration plant, which is responsible for the distribution network that connects the majority of buildings on the campus for the use of steam.

UF’s current power plant has been in operation for 25 years and is nearing the end of its service life. It will be decommissioned by the end of 2027.

The university has carefully weighed its options before deciding whether to go with the gas-fired power plant, which will be UF’s largest source of power for decades to come, UF said in a statement on its website.

“Before moving forward with a plan, the technological options were compared by the UF team for costs, known energy needs, local impact, environmental impact and feasibility of construction. and the schedule, “the statement read.

Eleven companies responded to UF’s “invitation to negotiate”, four of which were chosen as finalists.

None of the finalists are registered with the state’s Division of Corporations and it is not clear whether they have any ties to other power companies.

The finalists are: Gator Campus Energy, Gator Campus Utility Partners, Gator Energy Services and Swamp Power Partners. Gator Campus Energy is a Delaware limited liability company that was formed on October 18, 2021, according to records.

Companies that submitted proposals but were not selected as finalists are: GRU, Duke Energy, Chesapeake Utilities Corp., Gator Energy Partners (Centrio), Gator Energy Partners (Engle), Green Gator Energy and Sustainable Gator Energy Consortium .

Nathan Skop, a local lawyer and frequent critic of the commission who served as civil service commissioner from 2007 to 2011, said on Monday that although the GRU had a “fiduciary duty” to submit a proposal to build, operate and fund this plant, the additional revenues The flow generated from it “would probably not make a noticeable difference in the reduction of the electricity tariffs of the GRU and could have resulted in the issuance of additional debt by the GRU”.


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