New JEA pump station generators drawing ire

New JEA pump station generators drawing ire
Mallory Street resident Stewart Taylor provides scale for the JEA generator installed next to his home at the end of the street.

Following the recent installation of a new electric generator that will supply back-up power for a Jacksonville Energy Authority (JEA) lift station at the end of Mallory Street, some residents were more than dismayed to see the size of the structure. In fact, Stewart Taylor was outraged.

“It’s extreme overkill,” he said. “It looks like something you would see at a battalion headquarters overseas.”

Taylor said the property owners on the Riverside street received advance notification of the project from JEA and then requested a meeting with a project outreach representative to express concerns about the installation. He said the representative did not share details about the size of the installation.

He also said the concrete pad may be too low, based on the five-foot water levels he experienced in his backyard after Hurricane Irma hit in September 2017.

“If we have another ‘Irma’ the water will rise above the pad,” said Taylor, who feels the station will adversely affect his property value by nearly 10 percent. The generator blocks a clear view of the St. Johns River from his riverfront home.

Proactive approach

When Hurricanes Matthew and Irma came ripping through Jacksonville over the past two years, many of the properties on streets which dead end at the St. Johns River or its tributaries were subject to power outages and flooding.

During Hurricane Irma in September 2017, around 280,000 Jacksonville Energy Authority (JEA) customers lost power – about 60 percent of its base – and the sanitary sewer pump stations serving their areas reverted to backup generators. Many lift stations were reported to be under water at the height of the storm, and at least one backup generator failed at a treatment plant in Mandarin. More than 2.2 million gallons of sewage and wastewater was released out into the environment in the Jacksonville area, subjecting its resident to bacteria, like e. coli, and parasites.

Since February 2018, JEA has been working on upgrading many of its 350 fixed generators at lift stations – including several in the historic districts hit hard during the hurricanes – to prevent unintentional overflows or leaks from the sewer collection system.

Three contractors – Ring Power, Cummins, and Zabatt – were collectively awarded $6,041,305 to install 55 generators of varying sizes regarding system voltage, amperage, and motor horsepower, according to documents provided by JEA. Mallory Street and Challen Avenue were two of the 55 sites to receive new lift station generators.

Contractors first install a concrete pad to keep the generator out of the water in the event of flooding then, after the electrical system is installed, a crane places the generator onto the pad. Upon completion of the project, the area around the sanitary sewer pump station will be cleaned up and restored to pre-construction condition, then a contractor will return to install a security fence around the perimeter of the pump station property.

JEA’s contractors have a concrete pad in place for a similar generator at the end of Challen Avenue, and the finished project at Greenwood Avenue is waiting for a security fence.

Taylor noted when the JEA representative met with the Mallory Street homeowners they were told they could choose what type of fencing they would like, but he’s not convinced it will be high enough to fully hide the generator from his backyard view – formerly that of the St. Johns River.

The Resident reached out to the JEA for information about efforts to work with property owners, but did not receive a response on that issue.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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