• JEA names bidders in potential sale of the utility

    By: Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The names of some of the entities competing to potentially buy JEA were released to the public Monday afternoon.

    Sixteen submissions for the potential sale of JEA were opened one by one at JEA headquarters one week ago.

    JEA also received a 17th submission, but it did not meet requirements.

    Those 16 qualifiers were evaluated against mandatory requirements and essentially given a ‘pass' or ‘fail' grade.

    Thirteen satisfied the mandatory requirements and three did not.

    From there, a group of five people within JEA, evaluated each submission. Each group could receive a maximum of 100 points; a score of 75 was considered "good" and "competitive."

    The nine companies that made the cut had at least a score of 75.

    Timeline of events: Exploring the sale of Jacksonville public utility JEA

    JEA said it had been working since last week to get in contact with the remaining nine entities to see if they would like their name to be released publicly.

    Eight of the nine companies agreed to release their name to the public. 

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    JEA released the following information about nine of the original 16 entities in its Notice of Intent to Negotiate:

    "JEA announces its intent to negotiate with the following qualified respondents pursuant to the above Invitation to Negotiate: 

    • American Public Infrastructure LLC
    • American Water Works Company, Inc.
    • Duke Energy
    • Emera Inc.
    • JEA Public Power Partners: A Consortium of Bernhard Capital Partners, Emera Inc., and Suez
    • IFM Investors PTY LTD
    • Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets Inc. (MIRA Inc.)
    • NextEra Energy
    • Respondent A (Respondent did not consent to release of name) 

     
    "Consistent with sections 3.2.1 and 3.3.1 of the ITN, and Addendum #4 to the ITN, the Chief Procurement Officer reviewed the overall scores of the Replies and determined that these respondents, representing those scoring 75 or more overall points, constitute the competitive range of Replies reasonably susceptible of award."

    While JEA is a public entity, Jacksonville City Councilman Danny Becton, the JEA liason, told Action News Jax's Courtney Cole that the bidding process isn't necessarily meant to be transparent because of the effort to get the most competitive bids.

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    On Monday, Lynne Rhode, JEA's Vice President and Chief Legal Officer with the Office of General Counsel for JEA, echoed the sentiment that nothing is unusual about this process.

    "It's run just like other competitive solicitations are. You have state procurement. You have JEA, and it's run and it has to be run in accordance with our charter our procurement codes — and that's why it's done the way it's done," Rhode told Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole.

    But while it may not be very transparent, City Council members also tried to make it clear last week that this is also not a done deal either.

    "Privatization isn't the only option on the table," Councilman Becton said.

    Here are the other options:

    • IPO, initial public offering, it basically means the company would "go public" and offer shares for sale to the public for the first time.
    • A Co-Op, which means every customer would be a shareholder.
    • A more traditional option, which would open the door to rate increases and possible layoffs.
    • They could stick to how they're operating now.

    "Ultimately this process will flow to the JEA board on these five options... not on one option, but five options," Councilman Becton told Action News Jax Courtney Cole.

    This isn't the first time privatization has been considered. Council member Becton told Cole they're back at this crossroads again, because of the future of the utility business.

    "Technology, efficiencies, everything where it looks like we're using less and less electricity is of concern. This has been described by some folks as a "death spiral" and has been described by some others as a decline," Becton said.

    But Becton said it doesn't mean they want to short-change customers.

    "The reality is yes, JEA does have some challenges in terms of trying to grow the company in the future. From that, they're trying to figure out what that looks like," Becton said.

    Action News Jax has reached out to the city to speak to Mayor Lenny Curry about the possible privatization of JEA. This afternoon, the city told Cole they have "no comment at this time."

    We also reached out to JEA about the possibility of interviewing CEO Aaron Zahn or President/COO Melissa Dykes. We were told at this time, Zahn or Dykes won't be doing interviews.

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