Customers ask about spikes in utility bills amid COVID-19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Don’t be alarmed if you see a spike on your utility bills this month.

“We’re seeing spikes that we usually only see once we get deeper into the spring,” said JEA spokeswoman Gina Kyle.

Florida’s stay-at-home order, coupled with the unusual hot days we experienced in late March, is why JEA said your utility bill might be higher this month.

“With warmer weather towards the end of March, everyone started using their sprinkler systems so the irrigation systems are going at full blast,” Kyle said.

Kyle said the best way to supress that spike for next month’s bill is to try only watering your lawn during off-peak hours between midnight and 4 a.m.

Also, try to turn off the sprinklers when it rains.

JEA said it is not only seeing a spike in usage, but also is having to battle an increase in fatbergs, which are globs of fats, oils and greases that mix and congeal with solid items flushed down sewer pipes.

“Last week we had a very large jam ... that took two operators a couple of hours to clear,” said Michael Durrett, manager of the Buckman Wastewater Treatment Plant.

A fatberg is basically a combination of everything you shouldn’t be putting down your drain or toilet, like rags, grease, dental floss and even flushable wipes.

“You should only put toilet paper and human waste down your toilet and you shouldn’t put oils and grease down your kitchen sinks,” Durrett said.

JEA said it is working to help its customers during this time. It has suspended all late fees and is also putting roughly $25 credits into customers’ accounts in May. Credit card convenience fees have also been waived. ​