JEA hopes to expand solar energy footprint

The utility only had 2% of its power supplied by renewable energy in 2022 and is currently working on the infrastructure to raise that amount.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It’s another hot day with temperatures soaring near 100 degrees in Jacksonville.

How high do you think your electric bill is going to be this month with three straight weeks above 90 degrees?

First Coast News is On Your Side with an inside look at the plan that JEA has to provide cleaner energy at a more affordable cost.

The sun – the cause of (and apparently solution to) high electric bills on the First Coast.

First Coast News was granted exclusive access to one of JEA’s solar farms. This particular farm is owned by 174 Power Global and managed by Hanwha Convergence, but JEA is the only utility to draw energy from it.

“This location is our Sunport Solar Facility and it actually houses over 27,000 modules, 27,260 modules to be exact,” said JEA Electric Systems Engineer, Rene Brown. This site generates about 12,000 megawatt hours on an annual basis and that’s enough to power 800 homes.

In 2022 only 2% of JEA energy came from renewable resources.

“We’re not where we should be, we recognize that and that’s why we’re aggressive with our goals,” said Pedro Melendez, JEA’s Vice President of Planning, Engineering and Construction.

JEA’s goal is to increase the total amount of energy that comes from solar to 24% by 2020 with another 11% from nuclear energy.

“It’s a delicate balance of reliability, environmental stewardship and affordability that we are moving towards,” said Melendez.

But will the plan for an added emphasis on renewable energy actually lower your electric bill?

“As we move towards the plan that will be reflected towards the electric bill,” said Melendez, “which means we may see an increase it rates, but it will be a lot lower than what could have happened if we had a different path. “

As the sunlight hits the panels at the solar farm to power a small number of homes in Jacksonville, Brown hopes that JEA will be able to provide other homes with solar power.

“The more we’re able to adapt solar and more renewable resources at an affordable rate, the better off we’ll be at weening off conventional fossil fuel generations,” said Brown.

And hopefully this will allow customers to avoid skyrocketing fuel charges like they saw last summer.

A more detailed look at JEA’s long range clean energy plan can be found here.

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