JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Yesterday JEA gave thousands of customers one more day to try to keep the lights on.
About 45,000 customers are at risk with overdue electric bills. Disconnections were set to start yesterday but were pushed to today. That means water will also be turned off for these customers.
If you are at risk of your power being turned off, you need to pay your bill in full or set up a payment plan. People were in line early Tuesday morning to keep their lights on.
The disconnections will come in waves, according to JEA. This week, about 3800 accounts are at risk of being in the dark, JEA Manager of Media Relations Karen McAllister said.
You can pay your JEA bill at jea.com or request a payment arrangement. There are also 400 authorized payment locations throughout Jacksonville. You can click here to view them. Some are open past 5 p.m.
"As a community-owned utility, we do not want any customers to lose the services they depend upon daily. That is why we provided a six-week grace period during the peak of summer heat. We have worked diligently to notify customers about their options and the upcoming deadline," McAllister said.
JEA said customers didn't have a fair chance to pay their bills or work out a payment plan due to the extremely high call volume. The long wait times continued in person.
Some customers said they waited a few hours to pay their bills at JEA's downtown office. JEA said it got more than 27-thousand calls by lunchtime, pushing them to postpone disconnections.
Disconnections for the customers who are most overdue start today. One customer, Theresa Mitchell, waited three hours in line. She's one of the thousands at risk.
"It would be very stressful trying to figure out how to maneuver in the dark, how to take a decent hot bath," Mitchell said. "You gotta tell the babies we're going to get the lights back on, they're going to come back on," Mitchell continued. "Mommy's going to get them back on. It's very stressful for a child to have to be in the dark. It's stressful for anyone to be in the dark."
In response to the needs in our community as we resume disconnections, JEA's five unions collectively contributed $10,000 to JEA's Neighbor to Neighbor program. This will allow an additional 33 JEA customers to get utility assistance. The unions are: PEA, IBEW 2358, LIUNA 630, JSA and AFSCME 429, McAllister said.