The Battle So Far…
As rooftop solar has grown in popularity throughout the JEA service area, the utility has grown increasingly adversarial to the solar industry. There is no sound reasoning behind this stance, and the arguments the utility makes to support its case are essentially smoke and mirrors. The bottom line is, they feel threatened by rooftop solar, and are fighting to maintain their monopoly on power in Jacksonville.
It shouldn’t be this way.
This month, the JEA board of directors will either approve or deny a proposal to crush the rooftop solar industry. Their idea is to reduce the buy-back rate for grid-tied solar, wrecking the economics of solar for homeowners. This would mean that rather than paying a fair rate for the electricity residents generate and sell back to the utility, homeowners will receive credit for only a fraction of what that power is worth.
David versus Goliath
JEA is a huge business, with 2015 revenues of 1.7 billion dollars. The coal-fired plant looms just off 295, and the smokestacks are visible from almost anywhere in Jacksonville. The fossil-fuel industry and public utilities are bedfellows; JEA uses coal for 50% of its energy production.
The utilities, JEA included, are waging a statewide war on solar power in the state of Florida. Their resources are vast and tactics underhanded.
A striking example is the recent Florida Supreme Court decision to place a ballot initiative which the utilities advocated. The utilities employed canvassers statewide to get people to sign a misleading petition in order to get an amendment onto the November ballot. What this will do is place regulatory authority for solar with the utilities, which is like giving the fox the keys to the henhouse. The language of the amendment is deliberately misleading, making voters think they are supporting rooftop solar, when the truth is the opposite.
JEA is using its size and muscle to stomp on the solar industry in Jacksonville, hurting homeowners and the city itself. They are behaving this way because they thought they could get away with it, sliding this current proposal in without the public at large being aware of it. Now, amidst public outcry and a flood of negative press, JEA is at least allowing for public input. They have the opportunity to redeem themselves as a public-owned utility, and partner with, rather than fight the solar industry and consumers who would like the option to generate their own power.
What can I do? It’s easy!
- Attend the JEA workshop on solar Thursday, April 7 at 1pm at the JEA offices downtown. These proceedings will be open to the public.
- Vote NO on the amendment in November!
- Contact JEA and let them know how you feel at solar@Jea.com.
- Fill out this form and we’ll get you in touch with the board of directors at JEA