JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Monday morning, long lines at the JEA customer center and high call volumes led the utility company to push disconnections due to non-payment back one day.
A freeze on late fees and disconnections expired on Sunday, and disconnections were expected to happen Monday. That has now been pushed back a day with disconnections set to begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
A JEA spokesperson said that as of Sunday morning, 3,948 customers are facing disconnection this week. According to JEA, the temporary disconnections will be staggered starting with customers with debt dating back the furthest.
Customers who are at risk of disconnection will receive a two day notice before their power is cut off, according to JEA, either through email, phone or text.
LET US KNOW: Have you seen an increase in your JEA bill?
“We are committed to working with customers to restore service as quickly as possible after payments are made,” the spokesperson said.
Lines of people snaked through the lobby of the JEA Customer Service building Monday as customers tried to talk to someone face to face as a moratorium on power disconnections loomed. Customer Wendolyn Patterson said she couldn’t get a customer service representative on the phone, so she waited two hours in line to pay toward her bill.
“Some people are far, far behind,” she said. “Me, I was just like one month, but I’m caught up now. It’s good they let me pay like some of it, half of it today, and I have until the end of month to pay the other half of it.”
Some News4JAX viewers have reported their electric bills doubling in recent weeks. Inflation, hot summer temperatures, and high fuel costs led JEA to pause disconnections and late fees on August 1, but now those bills are due for thousands of delinquent customers.
JEA customer Jasmine Castro said she takes care of her disabled son full time and relies on government assistance. She said she owes JEA $1,300, and it’s money she just doesn’t have.
“They’ll take the $600, but then they’re giving me three days to pay the remainder,” Castro said. “I’m on public assistance...what do you want me to do, go strip on the pole to get the money? I’m going to do whatever I have to do to keep [the lights] on because I have a child that I have to make sure has lights.”
Customers who tried to call Monday said they can’t get anyone on the phone.
“I’ve been calling since 7:30 this morning,” Patterson said. “The lines are down. You can’t get through.”
“I called on the phone and they don’t answer,” JEA customer Carl Morgan said. “They say that they’re too busy to answer the phone, so then I decided to come down in person because I heard today is the cut off. But I don’t think they’re actually going to cut us off in view of the fact that their phones [aren’t] working, and there’s hours and hours of waiting to pay your bill.”
He’s correct—with about 3,900 people facing losing power this week due to non-payment, JEA is offering a one day extension.
A spokesperson with JEA said customers can pay online and at several spots, including Publix and Winn Dixie locations. She also said customers can try to set up payment plans or extensions online, and the system will let them know immediately if they qualify.
JEA offers list of resources for people who need help making payments.