In a November 2018 referendum, 73% of Duval County voters said they should get the chance to approve any sale of 10 percent or more of JEA. The vote was 256,511 in favor to 93,000 against.
During his re-election campaign, Mayor Lenny Curry said that he would not introduce legislation to sell the JEA. His strongest opponent, City Council President Anna Brosche predicted JEA would be sold if Curry won re-election. Curry won.
While the mayor has not introduced such legislation, nonetheless, the board he appointed to govern JEA voted unanimously on July 23 to begin a selection process to accept bids from potential buyers.
We are republishing the following to bring your attention to the value of the JEA to the community at large. The reports linked below provide a wealth of information for those who desire a fact-based look at this issue. We will also be following up on this important issue.
Jacksonville FL, December7, 2018 – The Public Utility Research Center (PURC), a University of Florida internationally recognized research center, released Valuing Municipal Utilities — The Case of the Potential Sale of JEA in Jacksonville earlier this week. (Click here for pdf file.)
Commissioned by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, the research study was designed to answer questions raised by a city council’s special committee appointed by former city council president Anna Brosche and chaired by council member John Cresembini. The committee was originally charged with understanding “all aspects and implications of a potential sale of JEA,” which would include understanding JEA’s financial value. The committee’s charge was later changed to understanding “the future of JEA.” The committee issued a final report in late July. (click here for pdf file)
The special committee was appointed after JEA’s board and the Curry administration released a study conducted by Public Finance Management (PFM) (click here for pdf file) describing what a potential buyer of JEA might pay to purchase the municipally-owned utility. According to duPont Fund interim president Mary Littlepage, the PURC study serves to complement the earlier study by determining the value of JEA, not what some buyer might be willing to pay for the utility.
The PURC study assesses three separate businesses of JEA — the electric utility at $4.5 billion, water from approximately $1.5 billion to $2.6 billion, and District Energy Systems at $37 million, for a total value range of $6.3 billion to $7.5 billion.
The PFM study did not assess the value of JEA. Rather, it focused on what a potential buyer might be willing to pay for JEA, determining a range of $7.5 billion to $11 billion for the combined businesses.
The PURC study shows that 95% of Floridians receive water and sewer services from municipally-owned businesses while a large majority receive electricity from privately-owned businesses. According to the study’s principal investigator Ted Kury, water is treated differently from electricity by the Florida Public Service Commission. The inference is that water is more difficult to privatize than electricity.
In recent weeks, JEA’s board has emphatically stressed that it has no intention of selling any part of JEA, despite persistent community rumors.