JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax Ben Becker is investigating a proposed 5-year, $3.7M contract for JEA CEO Jay Stowe as the utility separately considers another base rate increase.
Stowe told the JEA board that residential base rates could increase 3.5% annually through 2034 meaning up to a 50% spike in your bill next decade.
Currently, a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity pays $80.46 a month, an increase from $77.83 in April. The proposed hike in 2024 would be 4.3% to $83.96 - but the cost could eventually increase to $113.40-$122.30 by 2034.
JEA blames the increase on the Plant Vogtle nuclear power plant which was years overdue and billions over budget before one reactor went online in July.
“If you could wave a magic wand, would you make it [Plant Vogtle] go away?” Becker asked Stowe after the meeting. “I’m not sure if I had a magic wand that is what I would use it for,” Stowe said.
The base rate hikes come as JEA tabled a vote on Stowe’s new contract so it can perform his yearly evaluation.
“I think Jay has done a fantastic job,” said Board Chairman Bobby Stein. “His team has done a fantastic job.”
Stowe is the reigning, defending and undisputed pay champ amongst Jacksonville public officials.
His base salary could increase from $650,000 to nearly $670,000 per year, with a 3% annual raise.
Stowe also could receive monthly perks as well, including $850 per month for a car allowance and nearly $2,100 for business expenses - bringing the total to about $705,000.
Jaxport CEO Eric Green is a distant second with a base salary of $462,500 followed by JTA’s Nat Ford who brings home at least $450,000.
In the 2023 Large Public Power Council executive salary national survey, Stowe is ranked 10th out of 23 of the reporting companies.
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The highest paid private utility CEO in 2022 was NextEra Energy’s James Robo whose compensation totaled $40 million. He retired in March.
“At the next board meeting in January, 2024, the JEA Board is considering granting Jay Stowe a salary increase consistent with what has been provided to other JEA employees.
Neither Jay’s nor any other salary increases afforded to JEA employees contribute to increases in rates.
The biggest drivers of electricity costs are the generation, transmission, construction and maintenance of the distribution infrastructure. The need for rate adjustments in FY24 are predominantly attributed to costs from Plant Vogtle in Georgia, which currently provides clean nuclear energy from Unit 3. As a community-owned, not-for-profit utility that is accountable to the customers we serve, we are extremely mindful of cost of operations and how they can impact customers. Ensuring stability by retaining a highly competent and proven visionary leader is important to the JEA Board, JEA employees and our community.”