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Bids for JEA expected to start next week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The potential sale of JEA is still raising concerns among customers and city council members.

JEA and the city council have been told by lawyers to keep quiet about the possible sale while negotiations are underway.

On Monday, companies are expected to submit bids for the possible sale of Jacksonville’s public utility. Those bids could include how much a company would be willing to pay for the utility.

Florida Power & Light will be one of the potential buyers because President and CEO Eric Silagy has said FPL is interested. As for other suitors, that information will not be released for a while.

For more than a year there has been debate about selling JEA. Voters have said in a non-binding referendum that they want a say in the matter. City council agreed and made it official that in order to sell the city utility an election will be held, and the voters have to say yes.

Since then, JEA has been pushing the idea of a sale. In numerous board meetings CEO Aaron Zahn laid out JEA’s position that it needs to look for alternatives to keep the city owned utility afloat. One main idea has been selling off all or part of JEA to a private utility.

Once the bids are submitted on Monday, they will remain secret during the negotiation process. JEA staff isn’t talking and city council has been advised to keep mum.

Council president Scott Wilson told News4Jax on Thursday they don’t want to interfere in the bidding process and possibly giving a company an edge.

“It’s very rare that government is moving through a process that taxpayers don’t have a full scope of where the government is going,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the “cone of silence” limits what they can say.
 
“Rest assured, if and when a recapitalization event is presented to the Jacksonville City Council, we will ensure public participation,” he said.

Wilson said at that time Council members will be able to ask questions about the sale.

City Council is also looking to hire an outside an attorney to advise them on the matter which could happen next week.​​​​​​

News4Jax reached out to JEA but a representative wasn’t immediately available for comment Thursday.


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Jim Piggott

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.