GRU Authority finalizes vote on net metering amid pushback – Mainstreet Daily News Gainesville

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The Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority (GRU Authority) voted to change the rate it pays to customers who put solar energy onto the electric grid. The authority also decided to delay making changes to the clerk position and allow an opt out for Advanced Metering Infrastructure.  

Around 27 public speakers argued against the GRU Authority changing rates for net metering customers. These net metering customers have solar panels that power their homes when available but also use power from GRU when the solar panels don’t produce enough energy. 

Throughout the year, if a residential solar array sends more electricity to the grid than GRU supplies to the home, GRU buys the excess electricity produced. 

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The GRU Authority voted to not change the agreement with current net metering customers. But customers who apply for solar permits on or after April 18 will be subject to the new rate.  

Net metering customers for 2023 received a full retail rate of $0.0516 per kilowatt-hour. The new rate will follow the fuel adjustment, currently at $0.035 per kilowatt-hour. The change is around 1.66 cents per kilowatt-hour, but the new rate will fluctuate with the fuel adjustment that changes based on natural gas prices.  

According to state law, investor-owned utilities must pay the full retail rate, but municipally-owned and community-owned utilities can use different rates. Investor-owned utilities have pushed for the same options concerning net metering. 

GRU staff said the change will save money and lower the subsidy that non-solar owners currently pay to solar owners.  

Chair Craig Carter said that GRU is not getting rid of net metering, addressing a concern spread in the community.  

“The utility has an expense with [net metering]. I am all for solar. I’m just not for the way we’re paying it,” Carter said. 

Public speakers, including many solar company owners and employees, argued against the change. Because of the number of speakers, Carter decided to only give each person one minute.  

Speakers said the change would cause lost jobs in the area and reduce the number of homes that install solar. Speakers also warned that lawsuits, like some faced by JEA, could come.  

Several said that the savings would be negligible while harming the economy, environment and family finances.  

After public comment, board members Robert Karow and Eric Lawson had nothing to add. Carter began to speak but was interrupted by speakers in the crowd. After the lawyer asked for decorum, Carter also asked building security to be ready to intervene if the meeting couldn’t continue because of the continued outbursts.  

The item passed 3-0, with member James Coats absent.  

The GRU Authority also voted to allow an opt out for customers who don’t want Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).  

AMI wirelessly sends usage data to GRU and the customer, allowing more frequent and efficient monitoring of meters. The opt out will be available until the old meters are no longer commercially available, and customers who don’t want AMI will need to pay $38 monthly to cover the cost of manually reading the meter.  

Wednesday’s meeting was likely the last for the current GRU Authority. The entire board resigned in March following a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis. New applications for the board were due Tuesday, and DeSantis is expected to appoint the new members in May.  

Carter announced on Wednesday that he did not reapply for the position. He said he would rather spend time with family and said he felt like he couldn’t make a difference in the role.  

Lawson, Carter and Karow thanked GRU staff for their work over the last six months since the board members started terms.  

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