Renew Jax campaign seeks Northside plant closure, 100% renewables by 2050

northside station jea
Along with 30% renewables by 2030, Renew Jax seeks 5% rooftop solar by that time.

Environmental advocates want something done about the pollution emanating from the JEA Northside Generating Station, and the utility may have given them a path toward getting that accomplished. 

A collaborative effort, Renew Jax seeks to leverage the position of the JEA Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) Stakeholder Group to create a timetable to decommission the Northside plant and commit to 100% renewable energy by 2050 — 30% by 2030. The IRP is akin to a master plan for JEA’s future. 

“Climate change and rising waters are undermining the health of our river, our community and our economy,” St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman said recently at a meeting to discuss the effort. “It’s critical we all do our part now to tackle the growing issues of climate change, and protect our waterways for the future of Northeast Florida.”

The Northside plant has notoriously high emissions and sits amid the ecologically fragile and important marshlands connecting Duval and Nassau counties, not far from the entrance to the St. Johns River.

Rinaman said Logan Cross, Chairman of the Northeast Florida chapter of the Sierra Club, will spearhead the Renew Jax effort. The campaign is seeking renewable energy and Northside decommissioning commitments from both JEA and the Jacksonville city government. They note a dozen other Florida cities have already committed to 100% renewable energy use by 2050.

“We view the word ‘renew’ as applying to the city itself,” Cross said. “If Jacksonville was to make such a commitment as committing to 100% renewable energy by 2050, that would be a bold step for Jacksonville.”

That sort of move could be transformative for the city’s culture as well, he noted.  

Along with 30% renewables by 2030, the Renew Jax campaign seeks 5% rooftop solar by that time, double what exists currently. The Northside plant also has a 2030 decommissioning deadline.

“We really think that if they make that leap (to 30% renewables in eight years) … the next few years will be a cakewalk,” Cross said.

The ease will be because technology is making renewables cheaper than fossil fuels, after the heavier lifting of transitioning to a new energy source. JEA already stated its intention to be 30% carbon-neutral by 2030.

“If we’re talking, we’re looking at this from an environmental perspective, or we’re looking at it with a jobs perspective, from JEA, or our community economic perspective, the way we go about this is taking steps now,” Rinaman said.

“These are reasonable, responsible steps, and that’s why this plan is so critical. If we don’t start taking those steps now, we’re not going to get where we need to be by 2050.”

The target date for approving the IRP is in January 2023, and the approved plan is expected to last around 10-15 years before JEA has to go through the process again. It’s basically the last chance for the public to have a major impact on JEA policy for at least the next decade.

“The important thing for us to stress is they should not replace (the Northside Generating Station) with a new natural gas plant,” Cross said. “Why is that so important? A new natural gas plant will be a 30-to-40-year investment. They will almost have to run it until it runs out of gas, until it runs out of its capability, to get their money out of it.” 

Once the IRP is approved in January, the focus will change to the City Council.

“Our hope though,” Cross said, “is we have ammo to go to the City Council and say, ‘Why don’t you show that Jacksonville is a more responsible, socially minded city by committing to 100% renewable energy?’”

Both the Northeast Florida group of the Sierra Club and the St. Johns Riverkeeper are members of the IRP Stakeholder Group. JEA said in a statement that it appreciates the community engagement in this process.

“From solar power to biomass and methane gas, JEA is diversifying our electric generation to include a variety of renewable energy sources,” according to the statement. “JEA has reduced its carbon emissions by 53 percent since 2007 with the closing of St. Johns Power Park in 2018 and the unit we co-owned at (Georgia’s) Plant Scherer in January 2022.”

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook: facebook.com/wes.wolfe


2 comments

  • Tiffany Barning

    August 25, 2022 at 7:10 am

    Juat wjat we need power shorages we paw enough for electricity as it is. This is exactly why we moved from CA to FL. CA wanted to go to renewables, the governmw t shut down the plants which created the shortages and constant brownouts. If you had roof top solar you wer insulated from the cost of the electrictiy generatoing to an extent, but the California Public utilites commision (CPUC) approved the scheme that both Edison Electric and Pacific Gas and Electric to charge roof top solar customers access to the grid. The advandage of having solar was gone. In our case we has purchased a 5kw solar system dor 20k with a 3k tax rebate which met our needs and we were selling electricity back to the grid at $0.04 kwh which PG&E then would tuen around and sell for $0.11 kwh. We would pay a true up bill at the end of the fiscal year to cover any electricty we used that we did not generate. When CA shut down theor plants PG&E along with Edison required revenue to keep the investors happy so they started charging a montly fee to solar customers to connect to the grid that cost negated any excess electricty sold back to the grid and come the true up we were paying what we were before we installed solar panels, which ment that the panels never paied for themselves despite the high costs of electricity in CA. The other dirty secret in CA that noone likes to talk about is that many large businesses were generating their own electricity using their own generators.
    In FL I see that JEA is allowed to double bill their customers already for electricity they generate and again for the fuel they use to generate said power, I habe never seen this pracrice in any other state or business, this is the equiviliant of a delivery service charging $0.20 a mile to deliver your goods then charfing you another $5.00 mile for fuel. Long story short is if this plant is closed expect your rates to jump as I do not see any of the clean energy options breaking ground as of yet and I do not see any JEA solar electricy programs or rebates, and from what I can fimd online none from the state. According to forbes the cost to install a 5kw system is now arounf 12k which may meet most need but still will need to have power generation to cover for the days that solar has low production. Furthermore if we all are forced into electric cars a home system of 5kw is not wnough to charge two cars which would most likely be charging overnight, when solar is not producing. I would agrue that shuttering this plant is a mistake, you will create a shortage and cost the citizens of the city more than the excessive bill they already recieve while recieving less reliable power. A retro fit to reduce emissions would be a far cry better do not turn this state into the commie shithole CA became.

  • Diana G Seda

    August 25, 2022 at 11:59 am

    Thank you for your knowledge of reality and for not voting to bring California here then. Let’s not forget that the “grid” does not operate magically for free. As you know, the linemen, technicians, office personnel and dispatchers are not free labor volunteers. The land, poles, wires, transformers, breakers are also not free. That is why there is a cost separate from fuel and that’s why there should be a charge to be connected to “the grid” which requires maintenance, installation and labor even if you have panels on your house.
    Technology is nowhere near being able to replace the Northside plant capability with solar or wind. Thanks again and have a great day!

Comments are closed.


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