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JEA sets goals for clean energy: Are they high enough and what will it cost you?

One of the utility's goals is to get to 35 percent clean energy generation in the next seven years.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — JEA's board just approved its plan to become more environmentally friendly, but is it enough and what will it cost you?

The utility's goal is to get to 35 percent clean energy generation in the next seven years. Last year JEA was getting two percent of its energy from renewable sources and now the CEO says they're just under four percent.

There was some pushback during the board meeting Tuesday from environmental advocates and even several board members over why JEA's goal for clean energy is not higher. JEA CEO Jay Stowe said in the meeting his concern was making promises JEA couldn't keep but says 35 percent clean energy is "not an insignificant goal."

JEA also plans to reach an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 compared to 25 years earlier, retire less efficient generation, use 100 percent clean energy to serve JEA facilities and increase energy efficiency programs to offset electrification demands.

The nuclear power plant starting up in Georgia, Plant Vogtle, plans to be operational next month. Stowe says JEA also has plans for four new solar sites and will reconfigure one part of the northside generating station to make it more environmentally friendly. Stowe explains there are three units at that plant.

"We would close unit three, which is a natural gas unit," Stowe said. "Replace that with the combination of all the other things that we have in this proposal. It could be a combined cycle plant on our system, it could be a purchase power agreement off of our system, it could be more solar. We're going to do that, go through that process in the coming months and years."

There is a price tag on all of this. Stowe says there will be rate increases on electric for the next several years and rate changes will be discussed every April.

"We're going to have rate increases in the electric side for the next several years," Stowe said. "So that's consistent that we'll continue to look at those each year to make those adjustments and have public hearings and discuss it with the public to be sure that we're keeping our rates affordable as best we can."

Right now rates are lower, Stowe says because of how they've managed fuel rates and how the market has changed.

There are plans for a public forum May 25 at WJCT Studios at 5:30 p.m. Reserve a spot here.

Some environmental advocates say JEA's energy efficiency plan is missing some important pieces. Stay with First Coast News for an in-depth story on this in May.

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