Jacksonville’s highest-paid utility CEO may shut down local businesses

Paul McElroy is the CEO of JEA, the municipal electric utility serving Jacksonville, Florida, and receives a salary of $437,000, among other perks. According to The Florida Times-Union, this makes him the highest-paid utility authority CEO in Jacksonville, as of September 2015.

The municipal utility runs all of the electricity in the Jacksonville area with little to no competition. Its only real competition comes from individuals who choose to install private rooftop solar panels: Residential and commercial buildings with their own solar panels do not rely on JEA’s services to generate their power. For them, the initial investment to have the panels installed is the only cost they pay for energy. After all, why pay a utility for energy when sunshine is free?

However, sunshine won’t be free for much longer if McElroy gets the JEA board of directors to approve the SolarSmart policy. The changes will make current net-metering policies less appealing to customers and will hurt the solar industry overall by disincentivizing investment in private solar panels.These policy changes will effectively shut down local small companies and allow JEA to take over the Jacksonville solar market. The municipal utility plans to generate solar energy through a large industrial power grid and wire it to customers, charging a fee for use of the sun.

Email JEA CEO Paul McElroy and the board of directors at solar@jea.com and tell them what you think of their proposed SolarSmart policy.