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JEA Board Picks Utility’s Next CEO

Photo of JEA's Downtown Jacksonville headquarters
Bill Bortzfield
Photo of JEA's Downtown Jacksonville headquarters

The JEA Board has chosen the city-owned utility’s next CEO.

During a special meeting Monday night, board members voted six to one to offer the job to Jay Stowe, the founder of the Stowe Utility Group in Chattanooga, Tenn., and former executive of the Tennessee Valley Authority — a federally owned utility company.

The only board member to vote against offering Stowe the job was Zachary Faison, president of Edward Waters College.

“I thought he was very knowledgeable, certainly has a lot of experience. What didn’t resonate for me was a commitment to the community,” Faison said during Monday’s meeting. “I did kind of hear him say that he had done some due diligence in terms of Jacksonville, but I just didn’t get the same sense that I got from Mr. [Morgan] O’Brien as well as Mr. [John Lewis] Hairston.”

O’Brien is the former CEO and president of Peoples Gas in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Hairston is acting CEO and administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration in Portland, Ore.

The board selected O’Brien as its second choice in case Stowe rejects the job offer.

Interim CEO Paul McElroy’s six month contract ends on Nov. 8, although he could stay on a part-time basis if necessary.

Former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn was fired for cause this year amid a failed attempt to privatize JEA and questions over an employee bonus program.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

Special Projects Producer Brendan Rivers joined WJCT News in August of 2018 after several years as a reporter and then News Director at Southern Stone Communications, which owns and operates several radio stations in the Daytona Beach area.