Mayor Alvin Brown released new details on how he says JEA could help the city’s unfunded pension problems by contributing an additional $40 million each year, without raising rates.
Brown presented a pension task force group Tuesday with the opportunities, saying that by allowing the publicly owned utility to enroll its employees into a separate pension plan, it could save $503 million over 35 years. Those changes would only affect new employees.
Another opportunity is JEA’s natural gas costs, which are below the budget’s utility. In 2012, the utility produced a $35 million fuel surplus because of low natural gas prices and had a $37 million surplus in 2013. A similar amount is expected in 2014, he said in a news release.
Additionally, despite JEA saying its revenue would flat, Brown said revenue growth will be above projections. Brown cited a U.S. Department of Energy report that shows electricity consumption will grow about 1 percent a year, equaling about $18 million per year.
JEA debt reduction also would mean savings as principal and interest payments are lowered, he said.
The mayor also said productivity gains would bring a “modest” 1 percent improvement in the utility’s expenses, which would mean $3.7 million in annual savings.
JEA board chair Mike Hightower said he received Brown's suggestions Monday.
The JEA board is scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. today, while the full task force that will make pension recommendations will meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday.