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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016 8 months ago

JEA approves customer bill reductions, bonuses for employees

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

There will be more money in everyone’s pocket who buys electricity from or works for JEA after the utility’s board of directors approved Tuesday an across-the-board rate reduction and pay-for-performance bonuses for employees and the CEO.

The rate reduction goes into effect Dec. 1 and will save customers $100 million in the next eight years, said Chief Financial Officer Melissa Dykes.

She said the new billing structure will “ensure rates comply with the cost to provide service.”

On average, residential customers will see about a 30-cent decrease in their bill, while bills for some commercial customers will decrease by about 5 percent.

The new plan increases the base rate while decreasing the fuel charge, resulting in a net monthly charge reduction.

That will allow JEA to pay down ahead of schedule about $190 million in debt, which must be retired with revenue from base rate charges.

The new structure also includes an economic rider that will authorize JEA to negotiate electric rates with large users, such as manufacturers, who would consider Jacksonville a site for new business or expansion.

Jerry Mallot, president of JAXUSA Partnership, the economic recruitment initiative of the JAX Chamber, said the organization fully supports the economic incentive opportunity.

“It will affect job creation and capital investment,” he said.

JEA board member Ed Burr, a member of JAX Chamber’s board of governors, said the chamber has been working on finding a way to help attract commercial customers “since the horse and buggy days.”

Delores Kesler, chair of the Compensation Committee, said JEA employees and management helped save $22.5 million in operations and maintenance expense in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, so the committee recommended that a portion of the savings, $3.1 million, be awarded to the staff and CEO Paul McElroy.

The employee bonus represents a 2.2 percent bonus based on salary: McElroy will receive $55,215 – 12.63 percent of his base salary.

Under the terms of McElroy’s contract, he can receive up to 15 percent of his salary as a performance bonus each year.

Board member Alan Howard said JEA competes with other utilities, including investor-owned utilities, for executive talent and “people will move for money.”

According to Bloomberg.com, the CEO of Florida Power & Light, an investor-owned utility headquartered in Juno Beach, paid its CEO $3.3 million in salary and other compensation, including stock options, in 2015.

“Our competitors would dearly love to have this talent,” Howard said.

Kesler has been in the employment business since 1977, when she founded Associated Temporary Staffing. The business later became AccuStaff, then Modis and later, MPS Group and Adecco Group North America.

“In my life, what I’ve done is work with CEOs – good ones and bad ones – and Paul is one of the best,” she said.

McElroy said JEA’s goals for 2017 and beyond are to keep expenses low, increase the utility’s revenue and improve its electric and water and sewer infrastructure.

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