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JEA releases NextEra, American Water bids from privatization solicitation

Florida utility JEA published redacted versions of NextEra Energy Inc. and American Water Works Co. Inc.'s proposals to privatize the municipal utility, after the two companies legally consented to the documents' release.

NextEra, the parent company of Florida investor-owned utilities Florida Power & Light Co. and Gulf Power Co., had offered to acquire all of JEA's assets, including its electric and water businesses, for at least $3 billion as part of the Jacksonville, Fla., utility's previous solicitation for alternative ownership options such as community ownership and an initial public offering.

"From a financial perspective, an acquisition of 100% of JEA's existing electric operations would be similar in size" to its acquisition of Gulf Power from Southern Co. on Jan. 1, 2019, for about $4.35 billion, including nearly $1.3 billion in net debt, the utility said. In addition, NextEra said it would be able to use lessons learned from the Gulf Power purchase and apply them to a JEA deal, such as improving reliability and reducing capital expenditures.

New Jersey-headquartered American Water had proposed purchasing JEA's water and wastewater systems. The water utility said it would be open to partnering with other electric utilities involved in the solicitation "in order to develop the optimal approach to jointly deliver on JEA's and Jacksonville's vision for the future," including providing at least $3 billion in value.

JEA released documents from NextEra, American Water and 14 other bids after the utility's board of directors voted to end its request for strategic alternatives and terminate CEO Aaron Zahn. City leaders and residents had criticized JEA board members, particularly Zahn, for a lack of transparency about the process and a perceived preference toward selling the utility.