Apollo – ancient Greek god of the sun (among other things) – would probably like what’s unfolding in his namesake town along Tampa Bay: 23 megawatts of solar power at a new photovoltaic array that only adds to its amassed output of renewable energy for the community anytime the sky is bright.
At Tampa Electric, we’re confident everyone can appreciate the countless things this array, the area’s largest, means for people across West Central Florida.
On March 31, a ribbon-cutting ceremony with local and statewide leaders formally dedicated the installation, which has been generating power since February. Occupying 106 acres of Tampa Electric-owned land across Dickman Road from our Big Bend Power Station and Manatee Viewing Center, the array combines two aspects of those longstanding institutions – respectively, electric power generated with a focus on environmental responsibility and a unique and enduring showcase for our love of natural Florida – into something new.
“This project is the most unique integration of multiple technologies in the entire state of Florida,” said Tom Hernandez, senior vice president of Business Strategy and Renewables. “The design had to consider potential flood conditions, high-wind conditions, the topography of the site itself and the fact that we’re using a new type of thin-film technology and single-access tracking that maximizes the energy output. It’s the most cost-effective way that we’ve found to date to produce clean, reliable PV solar energy and complement our generating fleet.”
Adding to the praise for TECO from the community, Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp used the occasion to present a special commendation to Tampa Electric.
“I’m so honored to have been a part of the ribbon-cutting for the largest solar project in Hillsborough County,” she said. “The Big Bend Solar Array will bring clean, renewable energy to 3,300 homes. It’s so wonderful we will be using our own renewable energy resource: the sun.”
What does the 23-megawatt array, one that automatically tilts toward the sun, mean for you?
It means we’re thinking big when it comes to new and better ways to make good on the Sunshine State’s potential for a clean, renewable-energy future. It means that with the backing of a company like Emera, a top-20 North American energy leader, we have the power to grow our system to serve a growing Florida while we work for the good of the environment.
It means we’re eager to partner with our customers to bring our solar expertise and commitment to this community – one we’ve proudly shared with you 118 years! With more and more homes and businesses powered by renewable energy that we provide, helped by economies of scale, new installations like the one in Apollo Beach will lead to benefits beyond those centered on the environment.
Not that there won’t be a few challenges along the way, noted Gordon Gillette – president and CEO of Tampa Electric, and president of Florida Operations – during the dedication event.
“We started the morning with some rain here and that’s a little worrisome at a solar ribbon-cutting,” he joked.
“This is our first full-size utility-scale solar facility; we plan to do a lot more of these types of projects,” he went on, taking a moment to thank the TECO team behind the project. “Solar plays a very big role in what we’re doing. Moving forward, when we think about Florida from an economic development perspective, clean technology like this is not only attractive to one of our state’s core businesses, which is tourism, but also attractive to all other businesses who want to relocate to Florida.”
With an effort that’s not just moving onward and upward – but even tilting toward the sun as the day progresses – the array in Apollo Beach and what it means for the community’s future is good for you too.
And as the ribbon was cut, it’s almost like Apollo himself was waiting for the opportunity to see the sun start to shine through the clouds.
Watch video of the ribbon-cutting ceremony on our YouTube channel.