JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many JEA customers are saying their latest electric bill doubled, and in some cases tripled, even though they are trying to conserve energy amid consecutive days of 90-degree temperatures.
News4JAX recently caught up with Roland Edwards at JEA’s downtown headquarters, where he was paying his bill — a bill that was unexpectedly high.
“Almost $100 more,” Edwards said. “It’s a problem when you got a pay a higher price for it.”
A number of JEA customers are hot under the collar because of their latest electric bills. It seems the culprit is what is called the fuel charge — it’s not the electricity you are using, but it’s the cost of the fuel JEA is paying to produce it.
That’s what many News4JAX insiders like Felecia Lindsey are questioning. She wrote, “Yes my bill has tremendously went up cause what is fuel cost.”
So News4JAX took a closer look at that fuel cost on a number of bills. For example, for one household, last year at this exact time, the charge for electric was just over $97 and the fuel charge was $45 — about half of the electricity charge — for the monthly bill. This year, the electric charge was $150 and the fuel charge was very close to that at $121.
Why the big change? News4JAX took that questions to one of JEA’s directors, Brian Pippin.
“It’s not that your rate is changing, it’s that the fuel charge goes up. If you pay more at the pump, you are going to see it on your utility bill, too, those price fluctuations,” Pippin said.
Pippin said JEA has no control over that.
“We do not, but we do our best to hedge. We have a fuels department that works very hard to try to lock in lower prices,” Pippin said.
The fuel charge could increase again next month and may not go down until the end of the year.
LET US KNOW: Are you having trouble paying your JEA bill?
So what happens if you can’t pay these high bills?
“We have a ton of programs we can offer. Every situation is different. I would just say be patient, give us a chance to work with you. I’m sure there is something we can help you with,” Pippin said.
After News4JAX spoke with Pippin, the city-owned utility on Tuesday announced that customers having trouble with higher bills during the summer months won’t have to worry about their services being disconnected because of late payments. Starting Aug. 1, JEA will suspend customer disconnections of electric and water service due to delinquent payments and waive newly accrued late fees.
JEA said it’s offering the relief because of higher utility bills stemming from the increased fuel costs and higher consumption during the extreme summer heat.
The city-owned utility said the extended grace period will continue through Sept. 18, 2022.
JEA encourages customers to do their best to stay current with their bills, as payments will be deferred, not waived.
The six-week grace period will apply to any customer — residential or business — who needs more time to pay their bill.
JEA also made another change to offer longer-term relief, adjusting the deposit return timeframe from 24 months to 12 months for residential customers with good payment history.
Effective Oct. 1, JEA will eliminate the fees customers pay when using a credit or debit card. The utility will absorb these costs imposed by its payment processing vendor.
Customers may visit JEA.com/assistance for information on bill-pay solutions and utility payment assistance for families and individuals struggling financially.