JEA: Customers could pay $500 more a year if changes aren't made

Utility looking to avoid rate increases by changing business plan

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - If current conditions remain the same, JEA customers could end up paying more for electrical and water service, according to the head of the utility.

During a monthly board meeting Tuesday morning, JEA staff said that in the next 10 years, customers could pay, on average, $500 more a year for service.

JEA CEO Aaron Zahn said that is why the utility is looking to make changes now in the way it conducts business.

“If we do not change JEA and the way we are currently approaching the business, then rate changes will be part of the future,” Zahn said.

News4Jax asked Zahn when those rate changes could happen.

“Our current budget for next year does not contemplate any changes to rates,” he said.  

The board was presented with an outlook for the coming years and passed a resolution asking for more information from staff during its coming meetings.

JEA cites various reasons, but says since 2005-206, customers are becoming more energy efficient, which means less money is coming into the utility even though more people are moving to the area. JEA says the use of solar technology and rechargeable batteries are contributing to the revenue shortfall.   

The board heard it needs to look at its business model and possibly go in other directions, as well as focus on solar and other businesses. It would require changes to the city charter for some of that to happen and that would be a matter for the City Council to discuss.

Currently, all of this is being taken under consideration, but Zahn added that if they don’t do anything, a rate increase is inevitable.

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