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Every person reading this post has something to do with JEA. If you consume any electricity at all, you need to pay attention to JEA.

Since we began Eye on Jacksonville over a year ago, we have kept an Eye on this important municipal utility. It’s important because the rate payers (those who pay JEA bills) are the ones who own this utility. It’s a unique utility and has served Jacksonville well for 52 years. It’s locally owned and with all the talk about Buy Local — this should certainly apply to our electricity!

We have written numerous articles about JEA and you can find them by searching “JEA” on our site at www.eyeonjacksonville.com. It will show you just how starved JEA is for leadership. For example:

  1. Yesterday the JEA Board sent shock waves through the staff during their public Board Meeting. They informed them there could be layoffs coming (upwards of 574 employees) combined with rates rising up to 26%. That is information you need to pay attention to. They blame it on drops in the use of electricity. Do you know why consumption has dropped? They told us to conserve energy, put in green “new deals” and increase efficiency of our appliances, homes, etc. And now — badda bing, badda boom — they need to raise our rates for doing so. Wow – that’s some reward for saving electricity.
  2. Just a few weeks ago, JEA entertained bids for a new building. Their old one was crumbling and repairs would be too costly so a new one was in the plans. Now a few weeks later — they may have to scrap that idea???? Didn’t they know rates might rise and staff laid off before they and developers spent all that time and money designing new plans? What a waste of so much time, talent, resources, etc. Shamef
  3. And let us not forget — remember the costly executive search firm hired to find JEA’s new CEO when the former CEO quit suddenly? That was a year ago. After all the money was spent with this firm and the costs of interviewing candidates — highly qualified utility executives were sent away. Instead the JEA board hired one of their own to run the place. One who had no experience but was sold to us as the best one to lead JEA. One who was a good friend of the Mayor’s too. Just sayin…
  4. And last but not least — there was that whole big deal about selling JEA. Just after Mayor Curry’s new Chief of Staff, Brian Hughes, showed up — that was the hot topic and it was becoming apparent the administration wanted it sold. But the issue got heated (pun here) and the Mayor backed away from that idea (for now). (NOTE: We think this idea will surface again soon based on the surprise information shared yesterday.)

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and we believe something is going on at JEA. Too much smoke coming from that utility and it’s time for all of us to take a deeper look at what’s causing all the chaos.

The one leading JEA is in charge of 455,000 electric customers and hundreds of thousands of water customers in the North Florida area. And here’s the question: Where is the leadership of the eighth-largest community owned electric company in the country?

My mentor, Charles “Red” Scott, was a CEO of many major organizations and he learned lessons along the way as he built his empire. He called them his business cardinals and published them in a document you can find here: http://www.growingceos.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Red-Scotts-Cardinal-Rules.pdf

The two top cardinals in leadership were: 1) Never, ever run out of cash and 2) No surprises. Always give me fair warning.

It appears Red was right and JEA’s leadership has failed the rate payers. We are running out of cash (so to speak) and Surprise – our rates are going up! Read the rest of Red’s cardinals and you’ll see a lot more of “leadership failure” at JEA. What a stinking mess.

If you are concerned about your JEA bill and the jobs of those who work there, send a letter along with your JEA bill this month. Address it to Aaron Zahn, CEO of JEA, and ask him to explain how he and the board are planning to fix this big surprise. They are required to respond to your letters.

Keep us posted on his response. We would love to share them with our readers.

And last but not least, pray for the leadership of this city. We have so many issues and they affect your way of living. We need leaders who understand that and put you first. I have a dream that one day Jacksonville will be all it can be. It’s a great city — we just need some great leadership to Make Jacksonville Greater!

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Founder of Eye on Jacksonville and Strategic Leadership Coach to CEOs

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