A publication of Appalachian Voices


A publication of Appalachian Voices


Gainesville Loves Mountains

Gainesville citizens push their utility away from mountaintop removal coal and toward clean energy

citizens work on Gainesville Loves Mountains

Jason Fults of Gainesville Loves Mountains speaks with a city commissioner about the coal ordinance. Photo courtesy of Gainesville Loves Mountains

In late 2014, the Gainesville City Commission in Florida approved a policy that prevents the city-owned municipal utility, Gainesville Regional Utilities, from purchasing strip-mined Appalachian coal and passed a unanimous resolution against mountaintop removal coal mining.

This decision followed over three-and-a-half years of activism by citizens with Gainesville Loves Mountains, a group of volunteers committed to fighting mountaintop removal in Appalachia and advancing clean energy locally.

The group held dozens of meetings with city commissioners that resulted in five public hearings and the bipartisan passage of the Mountaintop Removal City Ordinance. The policy ensures that Gainesville Regional Utilities will not purchase coal mined using mountaintop removal as long as it has bids from other types of mines that are not more than 5 percent higher than bids from mountaintop removal operators.

Since the policy’s passage in 2014, the utility has not purchased any coal mined from mountaintop removal and the city’s overall coal consumption has dropped considerably. Gainesville Loves Mountains is now advancing an Energy Conservation Ordinance aimed at reducing energy consumption and costs for rental properties in Gainesville.

This follows years of cooperation with the Sierra Club, NAACP, labor unions, local firefighters and more to get higher energy efficiency standards passed for renters in Alachua County, who make up nearly 50 percent of the community. Stating that rental properties often consume disproportionately high amounts of energy and that renters often pay overly expensive electric bills, the Energy Conservation Ordinance would require all rental properties to meet basic energy efficiency standards.

According to Gainesville Loves Mountains, this ordinance would protect renters from costly utility bills out of their control and reward landlords who make energy efficiency investments in their properties, all while strengthening the local economy. — By Kennedy Kavanaugh

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