JEA announces number of preliminary bidders in potential sale

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Another step was taken today in determining the future of JEA.

Action News Jax has been following the possible sale of the utility company since 2012 when City Councilman Matt Schellenberg made the proposal to former Mayor Alvin Brown.

MORE: JEA debating sale, but Jacksonville council members say public is being kept out of processJEA working on plans that could involve hundreds of layoffs as it looks to the future

It was six years later, in January 2018, that things started to ramp up when employees were sent a letter asking for their "continued employment during a possible acquisition or change of control."

Since then, a new CEO was named in November of 2018.


Then in July, privatization was considered when JEA presented numbers showing utility rates would go up 52% by 2030.

Just last week, Action News Jax told you when a group of City Council members moved to hire an attorney to help challenge privatization.

Which brings us to Monday afternoon — when the public utility began accepting bids for a possible sale.

Action News Jax Courtney Cole spoke to Jacksonville City Councilman Danny Becton, who is also the JEA Liaison, to get answers about the bidding process and the possibility of JEA becoming split.

Sixteen submissions for the potential sale of JEA were opened — one by one at JEA headquarters on Monday afternoon.

But none of their names were revealed.

"Those are 16 potential qualifiers for the process. They're not bids yet. They're qualifying based on the minimum requirements," Becton said.

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And according to JEA — Florida statutes protect their confidentiality.

But why is the process for this potential sale of a public utility, so private?

That's what Cole asked Becton.

"The process is meant not to have transparency for reasons of getting competitive bids on what you're trying to do here," Becton told Action News Jax

He told Cole JEA now has to look through each box and notify the qualifiers so they can start working on their actual bids.

"I believe that process will play out toward the end of the year, in terms of getting those bids back," Becton said.

And since there are so many qualifiers, Action News Jax Courtney Cole asked Becton if there was a chance this public utility could be split:

"That is an unknown that no one can answer at this point," said Becton.

Becton told Cole there are two other boxes (options) that weren't presented today, as well.

Those include the option for an IPO and a co-op, both processes JEA and the city still have to research themselves.