JEA says disconnections will start Friday, July 10, for potentially thousands of customers who have fallen significantly behind in their payments and have not contacted the utility to work out a payment plan.
JEA Manager Media Relations manager Gina Kyle told WJCT News Thursday morning that approximately 10,000 residential and about 400 commerical customers are eligible for disconnection, although service will be turned off gradually.
Another 10,000 disconnections are expected to be avoided thanks to the city's Utility Relief Program, according to Kyle.
The city is currently mailing out 10,000 utility relief debit cards worth $200 each to customers who qualified due to a coronavirus-related hardship that they can immediately apply to their JEA accounts once received.
Sheila Pressley, director of revenue services at JEA, said Thursday morning on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross said that all 10,000 cards were claimed earlier this week.
Pressley said it’s too early to tell whether another round of utility relief cards might become available.
Service will be turned off starting with a rate of 80 to 100 disconnections per hour over the course of several days between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., according to JEA.
JEA said customers with accounts with delinquent balances prior to the suspension of disconnections due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be disconnected first.
Disconnections had been temporarily suspended due to hardships caused by the pandemic.
Pressley said that JEA held off resuming disconnections longer than some other Florida utilities.
“We chose not to do that [disconnections], so that we can provide customers the opportunity to contact us for payment arrangements and other programs," she said.
Pressley said the utility is continuing to work with customers with financial hardships.
“Between the payment arrangements, the billing options, the payment arrangements have been extended from three months to 12 months, they're grateful that that time is provided for them to catch up,” she said.
The public utility is urging those behind on their bills who haven’t gotten in touch with the utility yet to do so right way to avoid disconnection, stressing it has payment plans for as little as $50 per month.
For those who do end up having their service disconnected, JEA is waiving the usual restoration fees until September 30.
Pressley said the best way to get ahold of a JEA representative is to go to jea.com/assistance.
“Almost every transaction can be handled by speaking with call center rep and done quickly and efficiently online. And that includes the payment arrangements and pay up to 12-month extension. So if the customer is not comfortable going online, they can always call us at 904-665-6000.”
The full interview with Pressley is available on Thursday's First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.