JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JEA is looking to reward customers who use less electricity.
Starting this summer, the city-owned utility will run a test in which 2,000 customers who agree to pay a higher rate for using electricity during certain times of day can actually get a lower rate for the rest of the day.
Customers don’t have to participate, but, according to JEA, it’s the way of the future and could actually save customers money.
The goal of the plan, which was discussed Tuesday at a JEA board meeting, is to get people to watch how they use appliances in their home, and change their habits and way of thinking. For example, turning off the AC or water heater when you’re not home, or not running the dishwater while using the stove.
"If you use more than one appliance at a certain time of day, it puts a huge amount of stress on our system," said Kerri Stewart, with JEA. "So what we would ask is for customers to think about their appliance usage."
At Tuesday's board meeting, members learned that JEA will test out the plan offering different rates for customers who choose to participate. Here is how it would work:
During the cold months, people turn up the heat in the morning, causing overall usage to go way up. If a customer agrees to participate in the new plan, the customer would pay a higher rate during that time. In the summer, it would shift to evening hours, when people crank up the AC after work. The payoff: You would pay less for electricity during the times when not everyone is using it.
"This is not a rate increase," Stewart said. "This is a pilot program where we will be testing out two different types of rates."
JEA has been testing it out with employees first. The program will involve an app and might also use some equipment to turn on and off water heaters and other appliances.
Ryan Wannemacher, with JEA, helped set it up and is also participating in the study.
"We have made some pretty substantial changes on how we use electricity and it's translated into real savings," said Wannemacher, who added that he's saved about $25 to $30 a month.
JEA will select 2,000 to participate in the pilot program. Eventually, if the test is successful, it will be available to all customers in several years.
Also at Tuesday's board meeting, JEA narrowed its list of places to build its new headquarters, and the resignation of one board member was announced.