GRU raising electricity rates


Published: Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 12:14 a.m.

Gainesville Regional Utilities is increasing the cost of electricity starting this month, citing the rising price of natural gas.

Facts

GRU rate increase

Gainesville Regional Utilities is increasing the fuel adjustment on bills to 53 mills from 50 mills. Each mill translates to 5.3 cents per kilowatt hour.

A typical residential electric customer who uses 950 kilowatt hours of electricity per month paid $111.19 in April, but will pay $114.04 in May.

Gainesville Regional Utilities is holding an event Saturday at all Publix locations in Gainesville to provide compact fluorescent light bulbs to customers. The energy-saving bulbs will be offered for $1 when GRU customers bring in an incandescent bulb to exchange.

GRU is increasing the fuel adjustment on monthly electric bills to a level that will mean a $2.85 increase for the average residential customer. The increase is due to the volatile market for natural gas, which is used to produce one-third of electricity locally, said Juli Crawford, utility analyst for GRU.

She said the cost of natural gas is projected to rise 27 percent in May as compared to the same month last year.

"If it's starting to cost more for fuel, we have to pass that on," she said.

The increase comes on the heels of a jump in electric rates and the fuel adjustment in October. The combination of increases means that an average residential customer who paid $98.57 in September will pay $114.04 in May, according to GRU.

The utility is promoting energy conservation as a way for customers to lower their bills.

In May, GRU will be providing an additional $50 rebate for duct inspections and repairs. The utility already offers $375 in rebates for duct work.

Customers whose ducts fail a post-repair check will get the extra $50 for the inconvenience of a contractor returning to their home, said Bill Shepherd, GRU's energy and business services manager.

Duct repairs can reduce home cooling costs by 20 percent, he said. Even new homes can have leaky ducts, he said, caused by actions such as moving boxes in a crawl space and damaging ducts.

"Typically it's a pretty widespread phenomenon," he said.

In addition, the utility is holding an event Saturday with the University of Florida Office of Sustainability at all Publix locations in Gainesville to provide compact fluorescent light bulbs to customers.

The energy-saving bulbs will be offered for $1 when GRU customers bring in an incandescent bulb to exchange. Each customer can receive up to 30 compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Shepherd said the utility has participated in giving away 13,600 compact fluorescent light bulbs from October through the end of March.

"We're finding people are no longer just changing them out in high-use areas, they're changing them out everywhere," he said.

Nathan Crabbe can be reached at 352-338-3176 or crabben@gville sun.com.

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