Pensacola postpones idea of owning its own energy utility — for now. Workshop planned.
Discussion on whether the city of Pensacola should launch a feasibility study to potentially create its own energy utility has been pushed back again, with support split from business and industry leaders and community members on whether it is a good idea to pursue.
In more than an hour of public comment at the Pensacola City Council meeting Thursday night, more than a dozen citizens urged the city to go ahead with the estimated $20,000 study they believed would both leverage ongoing negotiations with Gulf Power and possibly provide an alternative to the energy company’s 30-year deal.
Business leaders and Gulf Power employees, however, urged caution regarding the expense and labor requirements of running a utility company.
City officials have been negotiating with Gulf Power for close to two years to cement a 30-year deal in which Gulf Power would be Pensacola’s exclusive energy provider.
The city was previously in a 30-year agreement with the company, but it’s been 12 years since that deal lapsed and the city has been working on essentially a month-to-month lease since then, something many council members said they didn’t realize until recently.
Councilwoman Jennifer Brahier brought forward the idea of the feasibility study earlier this month, saying even if the result showed that Gulf Power is the best option to provide power to Pensacola, it would at least give the administration enough knowledge to negotiate.
The item then was pushed back because other council members didn’t think it was urgent enough, and at Thursday night’s meeting, the council — without council member Sherri Myers — voted unanimously to postpone approving the study again, this time to allow for a workshop.