Friday, September 26, 2008


Editorial July 14

By MyStJohnsSun - Fri, 07/13/2007 - 4:00pm
Don't dump utility, instead negotiate for same benefits
Times-Union editorial staff

Is St. Johns County well-served by having JEA provide electric utilities here?

JEA has about 11,000 electric customers in the county, while FPL serves almost 69,000 customers countywide.

The issue raised by a citizen at a recent county commission meeting is that St. Johns customers wind up contributing revenues to Jacksonville through their municipal utility.

That’s a fact.

A portion of JEA’s revenues are forwarded to the city of Jacksonville. St. Johns County customers of JEA take part.

The citizen suggested replacing JEA with a St. Johns County municipal utility. But would customers benefit from that?

As the accompanying chart shows, JEA is the low-priced leader in providing electric service in Northeast Florida. While JEA’s rates are scheduled to increase, there is every reason to think that other utilities will have to raise rates, too.

What would a St. Johns electric utility look like? Probably something like Jacksonville Beach’s, which is charging its customers much higher rates than JEA’s.

One issue that St. Johns County commissioners should study, however, is the subject of JEA making a contribution in lieu of taxes to their county.

FPL paid $1.9 million in property taxes in St. Johns County last year, a spokesman said.

And JEA paid $7.1 million to St. Johns County as part of an inter-local agreement for taking over water-sewer service previously provided by United Water.

Commissioners would be well served to approach JEA and negotiate a payment along the lines made to the city of Jacksonville.

That is the logical move. It makes no financial sense to replace a utility on the low end of the price spectrum with one on the high end.

Despite its recent electric rate increase, JEA remains on the low-priced end of the spectrum.

Utility Rate

JEA ’07 $88.33

JEA ’08 $95.93

Clay Electric $96.10

FPL $104.03

Jax Beach $114.76

Source: JEA; for 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity.

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