Considering a major eclipse at the Tampa Bay area’s largest solar array

Don't look directly at the eclipse without proper precautions!

Don’t look directly at the eclipse without proper precautions!

Cloudy weather and nighttime: these are the typical daily things that limit the electrical output of Tampa Electric’s 23-megawatt solar array, the Tampa Bay area’s largest, which has a featured spot on WFLA TV.

But Monday, Aug. 21 is no ordinary day.

The eclipse that will happen around 3 p.m. will place a 2,159-mile-wide celestial body between our array and the sun. So while our company plans don’t include contingencies for invaders from outer space, mutants or monsters with tentacles (sorry, kids), it’s a unique moment that deserves special consideration from us and – if you plan to check it out (you know you will) – you too.

Your considerations

The most important thing, as you surely know, is eye safety. NASA offers helpful guidance for experiencing the solar eclipse – namely, don’t look at it directly without special precautions! Some key guidance from that page includes the following:

  • Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  • Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

A few of our considerations

Our 23-megawatt solar array is ready to serve the community.

Our 23-megawatt solar array is ready to serve the community.

TECO believes in the future of solar power, and our many and growing investments in it are the proof. Our 23-megawatt array – with 200,000 individual solar panels that tilt toward the sun as it moves across the sky for maximum efficiency – can generate enough power for more than 3,300 homes.

Like all power utilities, we plan ahead to meet our customers’ electricity needs, and it’s no different with solar power. While forecasts call for the eclipse to reduce our array’s output by 77 percent, we’ll have plenty of power ready from across our generation fleet for all the communities we’re privileged to serve. And since the eclipse will only last about seven minutes, the drop in solar array output will be very limited.

No matter how you plan to experience this unique and fascinating eclipse, TECO encourages you to be safe. And by the time the next total solar eclipse happens, on April 8, 2024, we’ll have even more exciting ways to showcase the power of the sun in service to you.

Unless, of course, the invaders from outer space get to Earth first.


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