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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, May 21, 201412:00 PM EST

JEA electric customers to get refund in July

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

JEA customers will see a credit on their July electric bill after the public utility’s board of directors approved a rebate Tuesday of about $26 million.

The credit for the average residential customer will be approximately $32.

Each year, the utility predicts costs for coal and fuel for the generation of electricity. Because the cost was lower than anticipated, the credits will be issued, said Peter Bower, chairman of the Finance and Audit Committee.

“The money cannot be used for anything but fuel,” said Bower. “If we have too much, we have a duty to return it to customers.”

Also at the meeting, Mike Brost, JEA vice president and general manager for electrical systems, presented a report on the causes of the April 23 disruption of electrical service Downtown.

He said a circuit that runs underground along Riverside Avenue near the 220 Riverside development was opened to prepare for planned power network transformer maintenance.

At 9:15 a.m., a crew disconnected the service feed to

the Automated Skyway Express, per normal procedure for the maintenance.

Brost said when the technician opened one of the three fuses in the service cabinet, the cabinet “failed” and all three fuses and arrestor circuits were damaged.

Half an hour later, JEA received a report of a manhole fire at 220 Riverside Ave. A field crew was routed to the scene. Jacksonville Fire and Rescue also responded and extinguished the fire.

In the meantime, Brost said, circuits were interrupted that supply electricity to 90 customers along and near Riverside Avenue and north including CSX

Transportation, the Jacksonville branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Metropolitan Lofts.

The Duval County Courthouse, EverBank Center and City Hall were unaffected by the outage, Brost said.

Power began to be restored by 2:30 p.m. that day. By 4 a.m. Friday, almost 48 hours after the fire, power had been restored to all customers except Black Knight Financial Services on the Fidelity-LPS campus, which elected to operate on backup generators until 8 a.m. Sunday.

Brost said the fire “destroyed everything in the manhole.” The damaged was repaired by 33 technicians who worked 40 hours at a cost for labor and materials of $135,000.

He said JEA is “90 percent certain” the fire began in a splice that had been installed by JEA to provide electricity to 220 Riverside and Unity Plaza.

The splice has been sent to an independent laboratory to determine whether a defect in materials or workmanship caused the fire.

“The possibility of a repeat is unlikely. The equipment is very reliable and safe,” Brost said.

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