Your JEA bill is expected to drop in March

The price of natural gas used to produce electricity is now coming down

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Your JEA bill may be higher this month, but it’s expected to drop in March.

The reason it has gone up is because JEA was paying more last year for natural gas, which is used to generate electricity. On Tuesday, we learned the price of natural gas is now going down, so in March, your bill is expected to do the same. As for how much lower, JEA’s CEO would not say.

The update on rates was provided during the JEA board’s monthly meeting, which also offered more information on the utility’s new headquarters in downtown Jacksonville.

The building, next to the Duval County Courthouse, should be done by September. It’s not as tall as first planned. The building was scaled back from nine stories to seven, and the parking garage was scaled back, as well.

JEA will occupy the site, being built by Ryan Companies U.S., with a long-term lease.

We also got an update on the controversial nuclear power plant in Georgia, Plant Vogtle. JEA is on the hook for over $3 billion because of cost and construction overruns, and that price will continue to go up because more delays are expected.

Unit three of Plant Vogtle was expected to be operational in June. Now that will likely be in December. Unit four won’t be ready until the following year, and each month it’s delayed could cost an additional $8 million. In the past, JEA said that cost would be passed along to you, so News4JAX asked about that Tuesday.

“I don’t have an indication that Plant Vogtle will individually cause a rate increase or rate change. The cost of service will help define that,” said JEA CEO Jay Stowe.

That cost of service Stowe referred to takes everything into account, such as fuel and other charges, so we could see higher rates. But for now and for the first time, JEA is not going to say it will be the result of Plant Vogtle cost overruns.

While $8 million a month for delays is costly, JEA says that will be spread out over many years. So the cost could be smaller each month, but we will be paying for it a lot longer — think of it as credit card debt, where you only pay the minimum balance each month, which in the end costs you more. JEA says that next month, we should get a better understanding of the real cost of Plant Vogtle.

Tuesday’s meeting was virtual because of the recent surge in coronavirus cases, and for that reason, JEA did not vote on any issues.

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