JEA is a municipal electric utility owned by the City of Jacksonville. Currently the largest community-owned utility in Florida and the eighth largest in the United States, JEA serves an estimated 466,000 electric customers. The Amendment, both in its Ballot Title and Ballot Summary, seeks to wrap itself in the mantle of an enhanced competitive energy market that will allow greater energy choice; however, the true impacts of the Amendment are to completely restructure both the provision of electricity and the long-established system regulating electric utilities within the State of Florida.
Though the Amendment purports to allow JEA and other municipally-owned electric utilities and electric cooperatives (hereafter collectively referred to as “municipal utilities”) the choice of whether or not to participate in the competitive wholesale and retail electricity markets upon the restructuring proposed by the Amendment, such choice is illusionary. Municipal utilities will not be insulated from the Amendment’s effects by virtue of their ability to “opt-out” of wholesale and retail competition. Rather, as a result of the extensive integration of the electric energy market throughout the state, JEA and other municipal utilities will be unable to escape the destabilizing effects of the Amendment and will face substantial economic exposure under the massive restructuring that will result.
JEA and its customers have a serious and abiding interest in a properly coordinated and stabilized vertically integrated market for electricity. The Amendment will cause a substantial disruption of the provision of electric energy supplies within the state. Further, the proposed Amendment will impact established contractual relationships between JEA and investor-owned utilities that provide electric power and stabilize the provision of service to its customers.
First, the Amendment infringes upon Article XI, section 3, Florida Constitution, through its logrolling of multiple distinct subjects that do not share a common “oneness of purpose,” and further by altering or performing the functions of multiple aspects of state and local government in a manner that would result in precipitous and calamitous changes.
The Amendment’s broad sweeping and substantial restructuring of the provision and regulation of electric utility service in the state will also alter multiple functions and branches of state government and various levels of local government. In fact, it is hard to imagine any prior proposed initiative petition that would have as many precipitous and cataclysmic changes as the current Amendment.
In addition to violating Article XI, section 3, Florida Constitution, the Amendment’s Ballot Title and Ballot Summary violate section 101.161, Florida Statutes, by failing to clearly and accurately inform the voter of the Amendment’s chief purpose. Instead, the Ballot Title and Ballot Summary resort to political rhetoric, sloganeering, and advocacy language designed to mislead rather than educate and inform.
In sum, the Amendment violates the requirements of Article XI, section 3 of the Florida Constitution and section 101.161, Florida Statutes, and should be struck by this Court.
Read their full legal brief filed with the Florida Supreme Court here.