Jacksonville Daily Record by Mike Mendenhall
August 11, 2020
Florida 4th Judicial Circuit Judge Virginia Norton issued a ruling Aug. 10 that NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed purchase price for JEA is public record and should be released, according to attorneys for the city.
City General Counsel Jason Gabriel told a City Council committee investigating the publicly owned utility’s 2019 attempt to privatize that Norton denied NextEra’s request for temporary and permanent injunctions to prevent the disclosure of the gross and net amounts the city would have received in the private energy company’s bid to purchase JEA.
NextEra, the parent of Florida Power & Light Co., is one of 16 private utility companies that bid on JEA’s invitation to negotiate last year — a process ended by JEA’s board of directors Dec. 24 after public and Council scrutiny.
NextEra was joined by two other JEA bidders, Duke Energy Corp. and American Water Works Company Inc., and filed a civil suit for the injunction Feb. 19 to keep bid amounts and other information out of the public record, claiming trade secrets.
Council member Rory Diamond sits on the four-member JEA investigatory committee. He said Aug. 10 that the amount NextEra and other companies bid is important for transparency and because it would show the amount of money JEA’s former senior leadership team, including fired former CEO Aaron Zahn, would have earned in a failed Long-Term Performance Unit Plan.