JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – JEA bills could go up again – but it might not be much. A fare increase scheduled for this spring could be offset by lower fuel costs.
JEA also learns that the planned Georgia nuclear power plant it is investing in is being delayed again – and it could end up costing more.
Plus, the utility CEO gets a raise.
All of this was discussed at the monthly JEA board meeting on Tuesday.
The board voted at the meeting to have a tariff hearing next month, as it plans to increase the cost of what you pay for JEA service. Right now, the average residential customer’s base rate — the price customers pay for billing or customer service — is set to drop from $5.50 a month to $15. But to compensate for this, JEA plans to cut energy costs, so the average bill may only increase by about $4.
JEA also said it expects its fuel levy – what customers pay for natural gas and coal, which recently skyrocketed, nearly doubling customer bills – will come down by now. this spring. According to JEA, this could lower bills even further – for now – as they could rise further in the future.
“There will be further increases and changes over the next few years. This is not the last time we do this. But this is a relatively small change and impact. Current forecasts show that fuel costs will drop significantly by April,” said JEA CEO Jay Stowe.
These other factors implicate Plant Vogtle in Georgia. JEA is on the hook for over $3 billion, and that price keeps rising. There’s yet another delay due to a testing issue that adds $9 million to the cost. Once Plant Vogtle goes live, customers will have to start paying that $3 billion bill.
“Vogtle’s cost is a big concern,” Stowe said. “And we’re doing everything we can to manage all of our costs so that we can support our customers in the best possible way.”
The board also voted on Tuesday to give Stowe a raise — a raise of about 9%. Stowe will earn nearly $675,000 a year in salary and benefits. He has been with JEA for two years, taking over after a very turbulent period when the former CEO and senior staff were made redundant following the failed attempt to sell JEA.
The board said they wanted to make sure they could keep Stowe for years to come.
And the board also discussed the new JEA headquarters in downtown Jacksonville. JEA was supposed to be in their new headquarters now, but that hasn’t happened and probably won’t happen until March. There have been some hiccups in connecting computers and technology in the building.
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