April 22, 2024
Charting a Cleaner Path

Photo: JEA

Since retiring the coal-powered St. Johns River Power Park in 2018, JEA has reduced its caron footprint by 30%. The plant has since been demolished.

Economic Backbone: Energy

Charting a Cleaner Path

Florida's largest municipal utility has updated its clean energy goals. Some say the plan doesn't go far enough.

Vanessa Caceres | 9/20/2023

JEA’s new clean energy goals call for 35% clean energy and an 80% reduction in the company’s carbon emission reductions compared with 2005 levels, both by the year 2030. The goals were announced in the company’s triennial Integrated Resource Plan.

JEA’s current use of clean energy is 4%.

Other goals from JEA include retiring less efficient generating assets and increasing the use of energy efficient projects.

JEA, the largest community-owned utility in the state with about 500,000 electric customers, plans to step up its use of solar, with 1,250 megawatts of new solar energy by 2030, and the use of nuclear power.

JEA’s CEO Jay Stowe calls the goals both “pragmatic and ambitious” as he says they are aggressive, but pragmatic in the sense the company still needs to work on longer-term energy goals for 2040 and 2050. JEA leaders held off on longer-range plans to see what changes may come in the next few years that will influence energy choices.

The clean energy goals along with the Integrated Resource Plan were designed in combination with JEA’s board as well as stakeholder members from groups such as St. Johns Riverkeeper (an environmental group), United Way of Northeast Florida, the City of Jacksonville and others.

Stowe acknowledges that the goals don’t go far enough for some in the environmental community. “We didn’t end up exactly with what they wanted but we still have aggressive goals for the next seven years,” he says.

Keeping costs reasonable was another concern from stakeholders, he adds.

Adam Rosenblatt, a professor of biology at the University of North Florida who studies the ecological impacts of climate change, thinks the new goals are a step in the right direction but that JEA needs to make stronger long-term commitments. “To really limit the potential damage caused by the climate crisis, we need to get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Ideally, JEA should make a commitment to carbon-free energy by 2050 as soon as possible,” he says.

Rosenblatt also believes that the new gas power plant that JEA has as part of its plans is incompatible with reducing global heating.

The company’s goals could still change going forward because the IRP will be done every three years, Stowe says. 

Tags: Energy & Utilities, Feature, Economic Backbone: Energy

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