Aaron Zahn, a private investor who joined the JEA board of directors in February, resigned from his short-lived board position Friday so he can apply to become the utility's interim chief executive officer, adding another twist in the unfolding saga consuming the utility.

The board already tapped Melissa Dykes, JEA's chief financial officer, to fill the interim role, though the group had also planned to discuss a more substantial transition plan Tuesday, in the wake of CEO Paul McElroy's recent announcement he was stepping away from the day-to-day operations of the city-owned electric and water utility. It's not clear whether Dykes — who was hired by McElroy — is interested in remaining in the top spot during the transition or the permanent job.

Zahn does not have any direct experience running a large electric and water utility, though his background includes heading a wastewater technology firm, and he currently runs an investment group called Pascal Partners that specializes in acquiring infrastructure related to electric storage and generation.

"It is unfortunate Sunshine law does not provide a reasonable avenue to discuss and deliberate this matter with the collective Board in an ‘executive session’ prior to my personal resignation," Zahn wrote in his resignation letter, which is dated Friday.

Zahn's letter says he is seeking a one year contract through April 2019. The board will likely discuss the issue Tuesday.

How to move beyond McElory's six-year tenure is a sensitive one not only because of JEA's size — it's the eighth largest public electric utility in the United States — but also because of a contentious debate over whether City Hall should sell JEA to a private operator. JEA board Chairman Alan Howard has said he is worried the poisonous atmosphere in city government could hamper JEA's ability to recruit a replacement.

"In the event of an abrupt departure of a CEO, it is common practice for a Board member with chief executive leadership, industry and strategic planning experience to assume an Interim CEO role," Zahn wrote.

Zahn is an ally of Mayor Lenny Curry. He served on an economic development subcommittee that advised Curry as he transitioned into office in 2015, a fact that he touts in public biographies.

Zahn couldn't be reached for comment.

Although Zahn references past experience as an executive, it's not clear what kind of qualifications he has to run JEA, an agency that is viewed as a leader in the highly technical world of municipal utilities. At minimum, he would represent a marked shift from the kind of CEOs who have led the agency since the '90s. The last three men who ran JEA had roughly seven decades of experience at JEA before taking over. Dykes has worked as JEA's chief financial officer since 2013, and before that had experience in private finance focusing on energy issues.

In his short time on the board, Zahn has been a vocal member. It's not clear where his thoughts are on a potential privatization of the agency. During a workshop on the issue in March, however, he said he believed the debate over selling or not selling should stop. Instead, he said, JEA should "take a more pragmatic and deliberate course" by creating a 10-year strategic plan.

"... We jumped right to the conversation of sell versus don't sell, and I think we should stop that conversation," he said.

Zahn's resignation letter echoes that sentiment, saying he's aiming to build consensus "around the purpose and role" of JEA and to establish it as a "utility for the future of Jacksonville."

He said if selected, he would employ a "top tier" search firm to find a permanent CEO replacement. He also said he would re-establish "trust and open communications of JEA with our many stake holders," a reflection of the tension within City Hall that has also consumed JEA.

JEA faces a hydra-like series of challenges beyond the debate of privatization. Decreasing electric revenues are a challenge industry wide, and McElroy searched for years to find new ways JEA could make money aside from traditional electric and water sales.

The utility is also looking at a potentially multi-billion-dollar obligation to help construct two nuclear reactors in Georgia, a project that is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. JEA's obligation to that project — which becomes more expensive the as the cost of the reactors grows — is viewed by Wall Street as a major financial challenge.