JaxPort would consider acquiring the JEA-owned St. Johns River Power Park for redevelopment, according to a Sept. 21 letter from its board Chair Jamie Shelton.
However, the JaxPort official said his board is not interested in engaging in a joint request for qualifications with the city-owned utility for the North Jacksonville property.
Shelton’s letter to JEA board Chair John Baker II comes nearly a month after interim CEO Paul McElroy said the utility was working with the port to solicit international interest in redeveloping the decommissioned coal-fired power plant site.
“We recognize that JEA’s primary function outline in its charter is to operate utility services. Given our separate missions, we do not see a clear nexus for participating in a joint RFQ or how it might advance the charge from our Charter,” Shelton wrote.
The port official said JaxPort would “eagerly respond” if JEA issued its own RFQ to develop all or a portion of the site. Shelton said in the letter that he thinks the property should remain in “local public ownership.”
JaxPort and JEA are independent authorities of Duval County’s consolidated city government.
“JEA’s goal for the redevelopment of SJRPP is to work collaboratively while assessing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create the best solution for Jacksonville,” McElroy said in an emailed statement Sept. 30. “JEA is reviewing it with the Board of Directors and the redevelopment team.”
JEA completed implosions of the decommissioned 1,264-megawatt generating plant in July 2019.
The St. Johns River Power Park started producing electricity in March 1987. The plant, co-owned by JEA and Florida Power & Light Co., was shut down Jan. 5, 2018.
McElroy characterized the property as prime for use in the maritime sector during the Aug. 25 JEA board meeting.
JEA Director of Economic Development Jordan Pope said via email Aug. 25 that the utility’s goal is to find the highest and best use for the site.
Pope said JEA plans to retain a portion of the 1,600-acre former power park for power generation facilities, “but would unlikely be involved in operations as a result of redevelopment.”
JEA Special Assistant to the CEO Gerri Boyce said in a Sept. 30 email that there is no timeline to release the RFQ.
A spokesperson for the port said there is a meeting scheduled with JEA officials Oct. 9 to “begin the conversation.”
“The redevelopment of the property is a preliminary idea by JEA and our discussions with them are in the very early stages,” said Chelsea Kavanagh, JaxPort public information officer.
JEA said closing the plant, which consumed 4.5 million tons of coal a year, reduced its carbon footprint by 30%.