City Commissioners approved a new energy payment tier system Thursday night, despite Gainesville residents expressing concern over rising rates.
The ordinance was approved by a vote of 6-1, with Commissioner Harvey Budd voting as the lone dissenter. The changes will take effect Oct. 1.
The new tier system moves away from the current three-part tier system to a two-part system with an 850-kilowatt-hour breakpoint.
Under the old system, GRU customers fell into three different brackets based on their electricity usage: customers using less than 250 kilowatt hours, between 250 and 750 kilowatt hours, or more than 750 kilowatt hours.
Commissioner Craig Carter said the system was not economically sustainable.
The lower two tiers were not making the base costs, Carter said.
"What we’re trying to do is just level it off a little bit and get them closer to what we need to do to actually sustain our electric company," he said.
"This is just an adjustment. That’s all this is. That’s the way I see it," he said.
Mayor Ed Braddy said GRU customers above the 850 break will pay 50 percent more than people below the break point.
"How do you call that not fair?" Braddy asked. "I think we’re moving in the right direction on this."
Still, some GRU customers expressed concern over the new tier system and higher bills.
"You’ve got to understand, there’s a lot of moving parts here," Gainesville resident Jim Konish said.
City Commissioner Charles Goston responded to critics by stating that the current commissioners had no part in the biomass contract that, in part, led to GRU having among the highest utility rates in Florida.
"We’re being blamed for their lack of leadership," Goston said. "Now we have to fight a war we didn’t even create."