Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee Special Meeting Minutes

 April 17, 2017

Immediately following 2:00 p.m. regular committee meeting


Topic: JEA electricity generation and St. Johns River Power Park decommissioning


Location: City Council Chamber, 1st floor, City Hall – St. James Building, 117 West Duval Street


In attendance: Council Members Al Ferraro (Chair), Greg Anderson, John Crescimbeni, Doyle Carter (dep. 4:14 p.m.)

Excused: Council Member Anna Lopez Brosche


Also: Paige Johnston - Office of General Counsel; Kim Taylor - Council Auditor’s Office, Jordan Elsbury - Mayor’s Office, Jeff Clements - Council Research Division; Jessica Matthews and Samantha Lane  -Legislative Services Division; Mike Brost - JEA


The Chairman called the meeting to order at 4:12 p.m.


Mike Brost, JEA Vice President and General Manager for Electric Systems, stated that the St. Johns River Power Park on the City’s Northside was a very efficient power producer when it was built, but is no longer the least expensive producer because of the increasing popularity of natural gas as a fuel source due to its low cost and high efficiency. He noted that JEA customers are using less power in recent years, despite increasing numbers of accounts, because of the increasing energy efficiency of homes and appliances. JEA’s electric sales have declined by 10% over the past 10 years and the utility now has excess generating capacity that is expensive to maintain. JEA is currently contracted to add 206 MW of nuclear generating capacity in 2019 and 2010 when the Vogtle plant in Georgia comes on-line. In response to a question from Council Member Anderson, Mr. Ross said that the recently announced bankruptcy of Westinghouse Corporation, a leader in the nuclear power industry, would not impact the Vogtle plant’s operations.


The target date for shutdown of the SJRPP is January 1, 2018. Florida Power and Light, the co-owner of the plant, will share in the cost of the decommissioning of the plant. Pursuant to the joint operating agreement, the JEA was going to have to assume the costs of operating 383 additional megawatt hours in 2019, which will be avoided by the closure. Mr. Brost said that the decommissioning of the plant will reduce JEA’s costs, improve the environment, and open up approximately 2,000 acres of land for new development. JEA would like to keep 50 acres as a site for development of a future generating plant when demand develops.


Council Member Crescimbeni noted that he had received e-mails from constituents who suggested that the SJRPP cooling towers be retained after the plant is decommissioned and used as public art installations, particularly geared toward publicizing the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve.


Mr. Brost reported that JEA’s fuel mix is approximately 50/50 solid fuel (coal, petroleum coke) versus non-solid (gas, nuclear, solar, etc.). The electric industry in general is moving away from solid fuel altogether. FPL is almost completely out of solid fuel and uses primarily nuclear and gas fuel. Council Member Crescimbeni cautioned against becoming too dependent on any one fuel type, even natural gas, lest the utility face the same problem as in the 1970s when JEA was entirely oil-dependent and the worldwide oil crisis caused huge price increases. Chairman Ferraro noted that President Trump campaigned on bringing back the coal industry (although recognizing that SJRPP uses coal from Colombia, not the United States) and he has heard concerns from some of his constituents about tearing down a perfectly good power plant that might then need to be replaced in 10-15 years as Jacksonville’s growth continues.


Mr. Ferraro thanked the JEA for its good work during and after Hurricane Matthew last fall.



The meeting was adjourned at 4:35 p.m.


Jeff Clements, Council Research Division

Posted 4.18.17   10:00 a.m.