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100th Anniversary

100th Anniversary

Celebrating 100 years of public power in Gainesville

This year we mark an important milestone: 100 years of public power in Gainesville. Please join us as we take a look back at our history and celebrate a century of service.

Our Story: The Night the Lights Went Out in Gainesville

What began as a $7.30 dispute between the City of Gainesville and a private utility gave way to the community-owned power system that has served Gainesville-area residents for the past 100 years.

downtown gainesville 1890s

Gainesville was a much different place in late 1911, when troubles with the electric company began. The population was just over 6,000, and the local economy was driven by agriculture, lumber and phosphate. Home air conditioning didn't exist, and the University of Florida was just getting its start.

Back then, the City's electric needs were served by the privately owned Gainesville Gas and Electric Company, known as GG&E, which used an unreliable arc-lighting system to illuminate the downtown streets. Residents often criticized the spotty service, complaining that the streetlights were poorly maintained and frequently out of service.

In response to the outages, the Gainesville City Council insisted on a $10 deduction from its December utility bill. But GG&E would only accept a $2.70 reduction, and tensions mounted as both sides refused to budge.

The situation came to a head on January 26, 1912, when GG&E shut off the City's power. Citizens were outraged and organized a grassroots effort to demand the creation of a city-run electric utility. They got their wish, and construction of Gainesville's downtown power plant -- known today as the John R. Kelly Generating Station -- began the following year.

kelly generating station

While the landscape of Gainesville has changed dramatically over the past century, GRU's commitment to serving the community has never wavered. Today, GRU is the most comprehensive utility in Florida, providing reliable electric, water, wastewater, telecommunications and natural gas service to more than 93,000 business and residential customers.

As we commemorate our centennial anniversary, our focus remains on finding reliable, long-term solutions that will carry our customers into the next century and beyond. Join us as we celebrate 100 years of public power in Gainesville and the surrounding community; join us as we celebrate 100 years of GRU service.

Learn more about GRU's history