JEA board discusses spring rate hike, votes to raise CEO’s salary

Plant Vogtle in Georgia, utility’s new headquarters in downtown Jacksonville also discussed during board’s monthly meeting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JEA bills could be going up again — but it might not be by much. A planned rate increase for this spring might be offset by a lower fuel cost.

JEA is also learning that the planned nuclear power plant in Georgia it’s investing in is delayed again — and that could end up costing more.

Plus, the CEO of the utility is getting a raise.

All of that was discussed Tuesday during the JEA Board of Directors’ monthly meeting.

The board voted during the meeting to have a rate hearing next month because it plans to raise the cost of what you pay for JEA service. Right now, the average residential customer’s base rate — the price customers pay for billing or customer service — is expected to jump from $5.50 a month to $15. But to offset that, JEA plans to decrease the energy charge, so the average bill may only up by about $4.

JEA also said it expects its fuel charge — what customers pay for natural gas and coal, which has skyrocketed recently, almost doubling customers’ bills — will drop by this spring. According to JEA, that could bring down bills even more — for now — because they might go up again in the future.

“There will be other increases and changes over the next several years. This isn’t the last time we do this. But this is a relatively small change and impact. The forecast right now shows the fuel costs going down significantly between now and April,” said JEA CEO Jay Stowe.

Those other factors involve Plant Vogtle in Georgia. JEA is on the hook for more than $3 billion, and that price tag keeps going up. There is yet another delay because of a testing problem that’s adding $9 million to the cost. Once Plant Vogtle goes online, customers will have to start footing that $3 billion bill.

“The cost of Vogtle is a big concern,” Stowe said. “And we are doing everything we can to manage all of our costs to be able to support our customers the best way we can.”

The board also voted Tuesday to give Stowe a raise — about a 9% increase. Stowe will make nearly $675,000 a year in salary and benefits. He has been with JEA for two years, taking over after a very turbulent time span when the former CEO and top staff were let go over the botched attempt to sell JEA.

The board said it wants to make sure it can keep Stowe around for years to come.

And the board also discussed the new JEA headquarters in downtown Jacksonville. JEA was supposed to be in its new headquarter by now, but that has not happened and probably will not happen until March. There have been hiccups getting the computers and tech hooked up in the building.

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