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Gainesville Florida

Florida Utility Eliminates Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) Position Amid Reorg: Report

June 24, 2024 by Joe Panettieri

Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) of Florida has eliminated the chief sustainability and reliance officer position, and reorganized the associated office into a new department called Operational Planning and Support, a local media report said.

The changes, announced internally by Interim CEO Ed Bielarski, will ensure "efficiencies, productivity and compliance with state law," the local media report said. Several sustainability-oriented positions, outlined in October 2021, triggered some cost concerns from various critics upon inception.

Fast forward to June 2024, and we don't know the current status of Eric Walters, GRU's interim chief sustainability officer (CSO) since June 2022. Walters joined GRU in April 2001 as an intern and gained various engineer, manager and director promotions during his career at the utility.

GRU named Eric Walters as interim chief sustainability officer (CSO) in June 2022

Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) serves roughly 93,000 retail and wholesale customers in Gainesville and surrounding Florida areas, offering electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications services, according to the GRU website.

GRU, a community-owned utility, has various various air quality and climate change focus strategies. But we don't know if the utility has a net-zero target date for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Meanwhile, Florida has enacted various anti-ESG laws. Moreover, the state has repealed various clean energy goals -- though we don't know if such laws and regulatory moves influenced GRU's decision to eliminate the CSO position. We've reached out to GRU for additional perspectives. We will potentially update this article if we receive a reply.

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