We understand that Mayor Lenny Curry is pedal-to-the-metal on dumping the JEA, but his use of obviously bogus information in that quest is puzzling.
Did Curry think no one would fact-check when he claimed JEA’s rates had shot up 71 percent?
That’s nonsense and he knew it – or should have. His error was parroted by April Green, JEA board chairman, as well — who also should have known better.
Utility rates in Florida fluctuate depending on fuel sources and other variables. At one time the JEA had one of the lowest rates in the state but other utilities have managed to trim theirs. Florida Power & Light – the biggest electric company in Florida and one of those eyeing the JEA as a buyer – claims to have one of the lowest rates (2018).
In FP&L’s comparison, the JEA was higher than FP&L but below the average for the state.
Another comparison, at www.electricitylocal.com, claimed JEA’s residential rate was 8.6 percent higher than the average in Florida but did not give the time frame.
The Florida Public Service Commission does an annual comparison. In 2009, it showed JEA’s bill for 1,000 kilowatt-hours at $125.52 (FP&L $107.95). For 2018 it showed JEA at $108.50 (FP&L $96.14)
Curry, an accountant, was using JEA’s base rate to concoct his figure, but that is not what customers pay. There are other charges for fuel and taxes that boost the total.
JEA typical residential rates actually are somewhat lower for the period Curry cited.
Another miscue came when he mentioned that the JEA has a smaller workforce, as if that indicated poor performance by management.
The JEA is not a jobs program; it is a business. When a business can cut labor costs and still produce goods and services, it is an advantage to customers and owners – who in the case of the JEA are mostly the same people.
There are valid arguments for selling the JEA, at the right price. But there is no need to use figures that are easily debunked. Curry has hurt his own case.