(Sun)light, camera, action: Big Bend solar field is ready for prime time


Smile! Tampa’s largest solar array is spread across 106 acres in Apollo Beach – and now it’s on TV, too.

As with any solar array, cloudy weather limits the amount of electrical power Tampa Electric’s new 23-megawatt facility in Apollo Beach can generate. But through the power of television, the array now has a bright shining spotlight whether it’s sunny or not – generating excitement for a renewable-energy future that TECO is proud to help create.

The array, on company-owned land near Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center and Big Bend Power Station, made its formal debut in February. This month, thanks to an agreement with WFLA TV, the station gets a permanent camera that just debuted at the site to capture the array as a backdrop for weather reports.

(To access the webcam, go to the WFLA.com weather webcam page; below the main camera image, scroll through the webcam options until you see the TECO | Apollo Beach view.)

“We’re excited to have this high-profile showcase for the largest solar array in the Tampa Bay area,” said Tampa Electric’s Guy Morris, manager with Energy Supply Project Management. “With this one great idea, we can educate people about solar power even as we build enthusiasm for efforts that TECO, as part of the Emera family of companies, is eagerly pursuing.”

The array, which sprawls across 106 acres, features more than 200,000 individual solar panels. Innovative in design, the panels rotate throughout the day to follow the sun on its path across the sky for maximum exposure. The output of the array is enough electricity to power more than 3,300 homes.

And now you’ll see it in weather reports on TV – where more than just getting information about the next day’s weather, viewers will have a great view of the next generation’s clean power potential.

“Solar power is here to stay – and that’s a wonderful thing,” Morris said. “We’re proud to partner with WFLA at a time when more people are coming to understand and appreciate the role that stakeholders at all levels, at your home, at TECO and elsewhere, can play in creating a sustainable future.”

He added, “One day, large-scale solar arrays will seem as normal as a natural gas-fired power station. For now, we relish this opportunity to put our commitment to solar power on a communitywide stage.”

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