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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

GRU–Gainesville Renewable Energy Center legal fight about biomass plant ownership over

The legal difficulties between Gainesville Regional Utilities and Gainesville Renewable Energy Center over the new biomass plant have come to a close.

On Friday, GREC dismissed its counterclaim against GRU with prejudice, meaning that it cannot be refiled.

Jim Gordon, GREC president, sent an email announcing the end of the arbitration, calling the process a “long and difficult period for all parties.”

“Resolving disputes through the legal process is a time consuming, emotional and absurdly expensive ordeal,” he wrote in the email. “We are pleased to put this matter behind us and look to the future.”

For GREC and GRU, the future means discussing whether Gainesville will suspend its first right of refusal long enough for GREC to figure out how best to take advantage of renewable energy tax credits, which may include selling parts of the plant.

“GREC is just looking at a variety of options to be able to get the benefit of the tax credits,” said Albert Morales, chief financial officer of GREC.

In the letter, GREC’s president offered to pay for the city’s substantial legal fees incurred through the arbitration, in exchange for the suspension of the right of first refusal.

Commissioner Thomas Hawkins said that for him, the decision depends on the value of the contract with GREC in the long term.

“We need to look at the value of the right of first offer to the city,” he said, “and determine if that’s worth more than our outstanding legal fees.”

Hawkins went on to say that this issue would most likely be discussed at the upcoming September board meeting.

“My chief interest in determining who owns and operates the plant long term,” he said, “is going to be to ensure that that part maintains the plant so that we can buy power according to the terms of the contract over the long haul.”

A version of this story ran on page 9 on 8/28/2013 under the headline "Legal dispute between GREC, GRU comes to a close"

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