JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JEA customers having trouble with higher bills during the summer months won’t have to worry about their services being disconnected because of late payments, the utility announced Tuesday.
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 increased fuel costs and higher consumption during the extreme summer heat we’ve been experiencing.
“Last month’s bills for our average customer, it was 25% higher than what our average bill is for the whole year. So the heat drove up the bills. The fuel cost drove up the bill,” JEA Managing Director and CEO Jay Stowe said. “And all of that, combined with the need to try and be flexible for our customers, really pointed us in this direction that we thought we could do to help customers the best we can.”
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.
”As a community-owned utility, we provide services that are among the top two or three bills our customers pay each month. And summer utility bills can be particularly tough for some,” Stowe said. “We work every day to find ways to help our customers.”
Costs are rising in many areas — rent, gas, groceries — for consumers throughout the United States. And utility bills typically peak in the months of July and August in Northeast Florida, JEA acknowledged.
“The bills were higher than what customers anticipated, and we realized that they are going to need some relief and more time to pay the bills while they are buying school clothes and school supplies, as well as other things they are trying to manage,” said JEA Chief Customer Officer Shelia Pressley.
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.
On average, JEA disconnects about 16,000 people’s services each month.
JEA will continue to focus on educating customers about conservation tips and ways to save. Customers may visit JEA.com/assistance for information on bill-pay solutions and utility payment assistance for families and individuals struggling financially.