Tuesday, October 23, 2012

JEA Overcharges Customers for Services in Florida

Let me repeat that statement. JEA overcharges customers for services routinely! Who is the JEA? The JEA was previously known as Jacksonville Electric Authority, but now is more readily identified by just JEA.

JEA is of course located in Jacksonville, Florida. What I didn't readily know is that JEA "is the seventh largest community-owned electric utility company in the United States and largest in Florida." And, the numbers are important. According to Wikipedia, "as of 2009, JEA serves more than 417,000 electric customers, 305,000 water customers and 230,000 sewer customers."

Isn't that most curious that the number of sewer customer is so much less than the number of water customers? I don't get that stat.

Now to the overcharging! If you, like me, are a JEA customer who uses their water to irrigate your lawn and water your garden, you are being overcharged for services. The JEA takes a monthly water reading to bill its customers for water usage. However, they do not technically take a monthly sewer reading! That's where the overcharging is coming into play. JEA uses the reading from your "measured" water usage to bill the sewer service to match.

But! What if you are using that water for irrigation? If you don't have a separate meter for irrigation, you are being overcharged. Check out the images that follow.
Residential Water Service - 9/13/12-10/14/12 - Jacksonville, FL
Residential Water Service - 9/13/12-10/14/12 - Jacksonville, FL
Residential Sewer Service - 9/13/12-10/14/12 - Jacksonville, FL
Residential Sewer Service - 9/13/12-10/14/12 - Jacksonville, FL
Looking at these two images, Water Service and Sewer Service, you will note that the consumption matches, along with the current reading. Total consumption of water was reported at 2,000 gallons, which is twice the normal usage for me in a one-month period. My normal consumption is 1,000 gallons.

JEA is overcharging me by approximately 1000 gallons for the sewer charge -- that is water NOT going down the sewer, but going into my front and side lawn. That amounts to a minimum overcharge of some $16.36/month.

The next image shows a twelve-month cycle of water usage [and electric usage as well]. There have been three separate months of overcharging by the JEA for services. Matching the sewer consumption to the water consumption is technically an error in that the JEA is not taking into consideration the water being used for irrigation.
Residential Consumption History - 10/11-10/12 - Jacksonville, FL
Residential Consumption History - 10/11-10/12 - Jacksonville, FL
Water and Electric Monthly Usage
In the consumption history, from October 2011 to October 2012, there are 10 months of usage for water service at 1,000 gallons. That is my normal consumption EXCEPT in those months that I need to irrigate the lawn. Three months of water consumption was doubled, at 2,000 gallons; March, September and October. In March, the application of Scott's Weed and Feed required extra irrigation, especially since there was a long period of dry weather. September and October water usage was double due to irrigation for new sod.

In the consumption history, JEA has overcharged me approximately $50.00 [3 x $16.36] for sewer usage.

In August 2012, I received a letter from my Home Owners Association telling me I had a lawn violation for bare spots! Those were bare spots that I caused by pulling out the crabgrass. To comply with the HOA requests, I put down nearly 80 pieces of sod. NO, that was not the size of the bare spots. To know me is to know that I am a bit of a perfectionist. After I had put down several pieces of sod to handle the bare spots, I got "carried away" and moved throughout the front lawn. I opted to be proactive in a number of spots where the grass would benefit from new sod.

And ... then I had to WATER that new sod! Thank goodness that we got a little bit of extra rain at the end of August! Otherwise, my September consumption may have been 3,000 gallons!!! Oh my!

After I laid all that sod, I moved on to do some other yard work! I've written two blog posts about my yard "garden" projects. You see, I had grass issues in a couple areas of my yard which would have required even MORE irrigation usage and JEA overcharges if I had elected to plant more sod. I elected to put in a drought-resistant garden instead! Read about it:
My neighbors tell me that if I put in another meter for irrigation water, that would take care of the "overcharging" for sewer. I was told that, at one time, an irrigation meter was only $600 to install; and that the fee was raised to $1,500. That is the catch; it costs a lot of money for a meter to measure true water usage!!! My neighbor says that's where they get you! It costs you MORE to put in a meter that would accurately measure the water consumption for irrigation purposes. So, it is rather a catch-22 situation.

The JEA "is the seventh largest community-owned electric utility company in the United States and largest in Florida."
  • Total assets $7.5 billion (2010)
  • Total equity $1.5 billion (2010) 
Bottomline, I am not the only customer the JEA is overcharging! I'm certain there are many other customers of the JEA who have only one water meter ... and also water their yards with the water that comes out of the faucet attached to the side of their homes!

Looking again at the number of JEA customers reported in 2009:
  • 417,000 electric customers
  • 305,000 water customers
  • 230,000 sewer customers
These numbers do not tell us total number of individual customers such as myself who use electric, water, and sewer supplied by the JEA. $7.5 billion in total assets and $1.5 billion in total equity sounds like a lot of money! I'm sure the JEA could well afford to offer me a refund of approximately $50.00.

How about you? How much of a refund would you expect from the JEA for overcharged services?

UPDATE: September 2014 - So we JEA customers got notice that there would be a fuel surcharge rollback and we would see a credit on our July bills. Woohoo! I saw a credit of some whopping $12.00! Then, when I got my August bill, I nearly fell off my chair. That bill went up $60.00!!! It made me wonder if on one hand, we got a credit and then on the other hand, we got billed 5 times that credit to recoup the charges? I have still not recovered from that whopping big August 2014 bill -- the largest utility bill in all the 3+ years I have lived in my house.

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