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Locals Bar owner in San Marco is fed up with high JEA bills

Preston Waldrop has been in the bar business for 30 years and says the fuel costs in his JEA bills are ridiculous.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sky high JEA bills are something that affects everybody and we know this because of the hundreds of comments on social media that keep flooding in from people all across Jacksonville about their high bills.

Some bills are doubling, tripling or even worse. But it's not just residential JEA bills, many businesses are also dealing with soaring prices.

Locals Bar owner Preston Waldrop has been in the bar business for 30 years. He says he's never seen JEA bills like he has over the past few months and he wants the city to do something about it.

On a typical afternoon in San Marco drinks are getting poured at Locals and at the same time, Locals owner Preston Waldrop is pouring over his latest JEA bills.

"I have never seen these types of bills," said Waldrop. "The last time I had a $2,000 bill I talked to all the employees, 'Keep the door shut, we're not ACing all of Jacksonville.'"

Waldrop even installed new air conditioning units that are supposed to be more energy efficient than previous models and the reduced energy consumption is reflected in his bill.

"I used less electricity in the month of September this year than September of last year because I have two brand new AC units," said Waldrop.

But the price of his bill doesn't match his reduced fuel use. The most recent fuel use charge was $985.

Waldrop owns a bar, so he needs to keep it cool, use multiple refrigerators and keep various lights on for ambiance; that's how he keeps his business attractive and profitable. And while he's furious about his own JEA bill, he's also worried about his clientele. 

"How about the people living in the apartments that right now, all their rent is going sky high," said Waldrop. "It's doubling, they're getting kicked out, how about their JEA bills? It's like everyone is against the working man."

And he wants the city to step up and help when citizens need it the most.

"I'm not talking about the big corporate people, but the mom and pop people and medium income people doing the working," said Waldrop. "Why can't the city of Jacksonville help us?"

Waldrop said that he's done his best not to raise prices at his bar in recent years when the price of everything that he needs to buy for his bar continues to get more expensive, an expense that includes simply keeping the lights on.

First Coast News reached out to JEA about the utilities profits in relation to fuel charges, we were supplied with the following statement:

"The monthly fuel rate is a true pass-through of projected fuel costs to our customers. JEA does not profit in any way from fuel charges."

JEA also says that as of right now, roughly 44% of a customer's bill is dedicated to fuel costs, 20% goes toward operations and maintenance expenses, 16% towards non-fuel purchased power, 8% to current year capital funds, 6% to city contributions, 5% to debt service and 1% to "other".

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