Jacksonville, FL (March 8, 2018) Committee Chair John Crescimbeni set the tone from the beginning of the first gathering of the Special Committee on the Potential Sale of JEA. He told committee members, visiting council members, administration staff, and assembled JEA executive staff and employees that bad blood, rumors and misinformation brought Council President Anna Brosche to form the committee and that he wanted to start this investigation with a “clean slate.”
The committee consists of Crescimbeni, Brosche as well as Council Members Danny Becton, Garrett Dennis and Joyce Morgan. JEA is the city-owned electric and water utility. Late last year, the independent JEA Board commissioned an evaluation study to determine the utility’s worth and if the market was right for the city to sell to maximize the asset’s profitability. If the JEA Board decides to sell, it would need city council approval before the utility could be sold.
The Special Committee heard from Jordan Pope, manager of Government Relations for JEA, speaking to the fact that while JEA’s customer base is increasing with the city’s growing population, sales are on the decline due to conservation efforts and high efficiency appliances. Water usage has shown slight variations over the years but there have been slight increases as of late. However, compared to peak years of 2006 and 2007 to 1016 there has been a 10 percent decline in electric sales and 14 percent decrease in water sales.
Council Member Becton, a businessman who knows his way around a spreadsheet, asked that a future meeting that JEA leadership speak to the utility’s plan to grow despite decreased usage. Council Member Dennis wanted specific net profit and/or loss numbers rather than gross numbers.
Crescimbeni asked that the committee focus on its goals and approach. He has been in contact with a local foundation that offered to pay for a utilities expert to work with the committee to help keep it focused on energy and water issues and explain the complexities of this industry. Council Member Becton and Council President Brosche were appointed to a subcommittee to draft the qualifications such a consultant would need to being to the committee.
Because they are considering a sale that could bring a one-time windfall of between $3 billion to $6 billion into city coffers, testimony before the committee is vital for making a decision that could affect rates and service for years to come. Crescimbeni suggested that everyone who speaks before the committee would be placed under oath. If need be, he asked the general counsel’s office to explore the breadth of the committee’s subpoena power.
Council President Brosche had asked for a report before the end of her term on June 30. To reach that deadline, it was decided that the committee would meet more than twice a month as was previously planned. The meeting dates now stand at:
Thursday, March 15, at 3:30 p.m.
Thursday March 22 at 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 5 at 3:30 p.m.
Thursday April 19 at 10 a.m.
Thursday May 3 at 3:30 p.m.
Thursday May 17 at 3:30 p.m.
Thursday June 7 at 3:30 p.m.
Thursday June 21 at 3:30 p.m.
Meetings are held in the City Council Chambers in City Hall at 117 West Duval St., Jacksonville, 32202.