Gainesville Regional Utilities

What is Gainesville Regional Utilities?

Gainesville Regional Utilities, known to its customers simply by the acronym GRU, is a multi-service utility company owned by the city of Gainesville, Florida.

The services it provides include: water, wastewater, electric, natural gas and telecommunications.

Having 95,000 customers, it generates one third of the city’s annual general fund budget.  As energy deregulation is not apparent in Gainesville yet, customers have no choice, but to use this monopoly utility company.

How Does Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) Make Energy?

The 417-MW* Deerhaven Generating Station is GRU’s largest power plant.

Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU)At deer haven they have a variety of ways of producing power – helping to provide a more reliable source of electricity. Unit one generates 81 megawatts of power and can run on natural gas or oil. Unit one plays an important part here by providing extra support to our main power generator.

Unit 2 is their number one power source. It runs on coal and can provide 235 megawatts of power.

If 316 million watts of power (in total, so far) isn’t enough, they have three natural gas-powered units. One generates 80 megawatts. The other two are smaller standby units on hand just in case everyone decided to go a little overboard, for example, during the Xmas holiday season with fairy lights.

Add it all up and you get 436 megawatts of power.

Coal is the most abundant natural energy resource. It doesn’t have as much of a tendency to fluctuate in price as gas and oil plus it saves customers money – using coal instead of natural gas saves customers a whopping six hundred and forty eight million dollars.

It takes a combination of the right science technology and people to use this valuable resource responsibly. GRU strives to get as much as they can out of every ounce, making sure that energy is not only cost effective, but safe and clean for the community and environment.

So first, they crush the material to make it burn faster and hotter. In the crusher house it crushes, screens, then sorts the coal. The smaller pieces move on to the pulverizer. The pulverizer continues to break it down until it’s a fine powder.  It’s then blown directly into the fire, or what is called the boiler. The boiler is exactly what it sounds like. The purpose is to make steam to power the turbines farther down the line and this boiler at a blistering 2400 degrees Fahrenheit has no problem making steam.  In fact, it can churn out 1.7 million pounds of steam per hour. The boiler heats steel tubes filled with water. The water turns to steam creating roughly 2,000 pounds of pressurized steam per square inch. This high-pressure steam is piped to the turbine which is basically a really large fan and causes it to spin. The steam rotates the turbine and the electric generator connected to it by delivering a staggering 315,000 horsepower – that’s the equivalent of more than 900 eighteen sixty-nine Mustang cars.  This generator is made up of a large electric magnet that spins inside a coil of copper conductors. As it rotates, the magnetic field pushes electrons through the coil to create a current which is measured in amps. The force of which those electrons are pushed through the coil is called the voltage. Multiply the voltage times the current, then you get power measured in watts.

Summary of the Process

Radiant energy became fuel energy which is transformed into heat energy in the boiler.   This becomes mechanical energy with a spinning turbine, then electrical energy in the generator. Finally, electricity!

Electricity travels out of the power stations through large power lines to smaller sub stations within the community. There the voltage is reduced and distributed to customers.

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