Some apartment-dwellers say they are starting to see changes in their monthly bills due to Gainesville Regional Utilities rate increases, but GRU attributes higher bills to customer usage.
The addition of the biomass plant, a new renewable generation source in Gainesville, is the primary cause of the rate increases that took effect Oct. 1.
Stephen Capsanes, a 21-year-old UF industrial engineering junior, said he and his roommates had to pay about $10 more for utilities than the previous month, although their utility usage had not changed.
Capsanes said he doesn’t agree that residents, especially students, should have to pay the increased rate.
“We have enough expenses already with classes and rent itself,” he said.
But a GRU spokeswoman, Kendall Litton Jensen, said apartment residents shouldn’t have seen a difference yet, and in fact, because of a lower fuel adjustment rate, gas and electric charges were lower this year for the month of October and November.
“Customers, like apartment residents, haven’t actually seen any impacts at this point,” she said. “They’ll probably start seeing it in their December billing.”
For October 2012, the total cost of 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity was $127.67. As of October 2013, the rate was $124.15 — about $3 cheaper, she said.
Litton Jensen said water rates have already increased 10 cents, but she said the higher utility charges residents are seeing could simply be usage issues.
“The water charge did go up a little bit, but each apartment complex is structured differently in how they handle their utilities, so it’s hard to make the generic conclusion that (increased water rates) will apply to everyone,” she said.
Litton Jensen said some apartment complexes have begun emailing residents informing them their bills would go up because of the increase. But utilities caps most likely won’t change.
A manager for one local apartment complex acknowledged she is affected by the issue but could not comment at corporate management’s request.
Wendy Roth, a 22-year-old UF nursing junior, said the bill decrease from September to October was true for her. She would be disappointed if she noticed a future climb in her utility rates.
“If I started to see a significant increase in my bill, it would really suck,” she said.
A version of this story ran on page 1 on 11/5/2013 under the headline "Spike in utility bills not due to rate increase, GRU says"