|Predecessor||City of Jacksonville Electric Department (electricity, prior to 1968)|
Department of Public Utilities (water and sewer, prior to 1997)
Jacksonville Electric Authority September 23, 1998: The Jacksonville City Council approves a charter amendment to change the name of the Jacksonville Electric Authority to its acronym, JEA.
|Paul McElroy, Interim MD|
|$7.5 billion (2010)|
|$1.5 billion (2010)|
Number of employees
|2,000 approximate (2010)|
JEA, located in Jacksonville, Florida, is the eighth-largest community-owned electric utility company in the United States and the largest in Florida. As of 2009, JEA serves more than 417,000 electric customers; 305,000 water customers; and 230,000 sewer customers. Besides Jacksonville (Duval County), JEA also has customers in Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties.
Jacksonville's water and sewer systems had been operated by the city since 1880.
In 1895, the first electric power station, Main Street Power Plant comes online, providing night-time lighting for the first time to downtown.
In 1943, the Baldwin Interconnector comes online, providing backup power to nearby Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Camp Blanding.
In 1950, the Southside Generating Station comes online, and is hooked up to the city's electric grid.
On September 9, 1964, Hurricane Dora devastates 95% of the city's electric grid.
On August 8, 1967, as part of the consolidation of the City of Jacksonville and Duval County governments, the City of Jacksonville Electric Department became an independent body, renamed Jacksonville Electric Authority, now operating in accordance with Article 21 of the Jacksonville Code of Ordinance.
According to Article 21 of the Jacksonville City Charter,
"JEA is authorized to own, manage and operate a utilities system within and outside the City of Jacksonville. JEA is created for the express purpose of acquiring, constructing, operating, financing and otherwise have plenary authority with respect to electric, water, sewer, natural gas and such other utility systems as may be under its control now or in the future."
During the 1970s, JEAs electric rates were among the highest in the nation. Royce Lyles became JEA Managing Director on September 1, 1979 and the utility began diversifying its fuel mix. Rates began to drop, eventually becoming the lowest in the state and near the bottom in the Southeast.
Walt Bussells was appointed Managing Director on September 8, 1995, following Royce Lyles' retirement.
On June 1, 1997, Jacksonville's Department of Public Utilities, water and sewer operations merged into the Jacksonville Electric Authority.
Bussells embraced new technology and in 2002, JEA introduced online bill payment and implemented network meter reading. In 2003, the utility also began providing Chilled water for air conditioning in downtown buildings. The first two customers were the downtown library and the John Milton Bryan Simpson United States Courthouse. The new Duval County Courthouse, opened in 2012, also uses chilled water. Purchasing chilled water eliminates the need to install chillers and cooling towers at each property, reducing capital outlays and eliminating ongoing maintenance costs. The space saved can also be rentable, increasing revenue.
During Bussells's tenure, Jacksonville's electric rates had remained artificially low throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, despite large expenditures following the water/sewer acquisition in 1997, technology improvements, and construction of chilled water equipment. These projects were financed with borrowed money.
Jim Dickenson replaced Walt Bussells when Bussells retired on June 15, 2004 after nine years as CEO. Soon after taking over, Dickenson implemented the first of three temporary fuel rate increases to offset rising fuel costs. In 2007, JEA had the second-lowest electric rates in Florida before they announced a four-year base rate increase package that would raise the average bill from $112 to more than $140 in 2010. The additional revenue was designed to reduce debt.
The utility's debt in 2010 was $6.0 billion, against assets of $7.5 billion. Compared to other similar sized municipal utilities, JEA had 60% more debt per customer, which could lower the utility's bond rating and make it more expensive and difficult to borrow money.
In early 2012, Dickenson announced that he would retire February 1, 2013. On September 7, 2012 JEA Board of Directors named Paul McElroy to fill the role of JEA CEO and Managing Director effective October 1, 2012.
In October 2012, Paul McElroy signed a 3-year contract to serve as JEA's CEO and this contract has been extended once; it ends in September 2018.
In early 2018, JEA's board of directors became interested in potentially selling the publicly owned JEA.
In late December 2019/ Early January 2020, a state investigation on JEA's CEO and Board of Directors launched in response to complaints to the previously mentioned selling of JEA. This investigation is ongoing and is considered to be "potentially one of the worst scandals in Jacksonville history." The scandal involved a quick and quiet sale of the publicly owned utility, JEA, to private investors. These investors have been found to have financial ties to Mayor Lenny Curry, prompting an investigation into CEO Aaron Zahn for lies, forgery, and covering up documents pertaining to the sale. The JEA board then fired Zahn on Jan. 28, 2020 due to public outcry to the sale. This then started another federal investigation into the audits of the sale, particularly the amount of money the current board would make off the sale, moving the utility from the public domain, into a private entity.