Issue 30, July 24th

We took a break from our string of political programs last week to hear from one of our most respected community leaders, Hugh Greene President and CEO of Baptist Health.  Hugh gave a nice update on Baptist overall as a whole, also highlighting they’re now the only locally controlled hospital system in NE FL.  Much of his presentation surrounded the addition of M.D. Anderson’s Cancer Center to Baptist Health, and how many in the community are unaware of the impact.  M.D. Anderson, headquartered in Houston, is highly respected in the oncology community; drawing patients from all over the country to Houston.  Baptist has already seen patients coming from all over the southeast, having been referred by the Houston office.  This gives Jacksonville a huge advantage over other cities, not to mention adding a benefit to the business climate; and credibility helping to attract large organizations considering relocation.  Hugh gave us a virtual tour of the full campus and how the new 9 story building will impact the San Marco area.  Many comments from members highlighted their knowledge of M.D. Anderson, as well as appreciation for the care they or their loved ones have received at Baptist.

Additionally on the agenda, a gentleman by the name of Trey Price, traveled all the way from Tallahassee representing a group that became successful in adding an amendment to the August 30th ballot.  This initiative would remove solar energy systems from the calculation of values of a home in consideration for property taxes.  Additionally, the systems would also receive tangible property tax exemption as well.  Now after listening to Trey’s presentation, the picture he painted made this sound like a “no brainer;” and currently there is no active opposition.  However this made me think, as Paul McElroy (CEO-JEA) recently spoke at our meeting, and I had the opportunity to discuss solar energy and its impact to the grid.

Not long prior to him speaking, I had found an ad about a “quote” for adding a solar system to my home.  After a discussion with a local company, I learned the energy captured during the day would be sold back to the grid, and at night I would use JEA’s energy when the sun was down likely seeing little to no electric expense.  According to the gentleman with whom I spoke, there isn’t a decent battery system on the market right now.  However it’s believed Tesla’s new battery system may change things entirely.  What Paul explained was that the time when solar is active (during day light hours) is when the least amount of energy is drawn from the grid while people are at work.  Also, JEA has to credit their solar customers’ bills by $0.11/kw h while energy from the power plant only costs $0.05/kw h.  His opinion was that the rest of the JEA customers are basically paying the solar customers for energy JEA doesn’t need.  In fact, JEA has to reduce the energy output from the cheaper source to compensate since the energy produced won’t be consumed.

The point of my little rant is usually we try and reduce taxes in hopes of encouraging spending to take advantage.  If that becomes reality, and this incentivizes people to go out and purchase Solar Systems in large quantities over time, then it could mean more non-solar JEA customers covering the additional expense.  I’m merely speculating as the information I have is minimal, but listening to both positions makes me curious.

This week our very own member, Council President Lori Boyer will address SBMC for the first time at the helm on issues facing the council this year.  She intends to cover a wide variety of items, as well as her outlook for the year.  I’ve always been honored to have Lori as our fellow member and friend, but I’m especially proud to have her as our Council President.   It’s always a privilege to have our members representing us in elected positions, giving us very well-informed insight into their areas of government.  Finally our candidate spotlight this week will be former Judge Charlie Cofer who is running against Matt Shirk for Public Defender.

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