Making good on the Sunshine State’s solar energy potential: 600 new megawatts of clean energy on the way

Like our 23-megawatt solar array in Apollo Beach, our new arrays will use technology to tilt the panels toward the sun throughout the day for maximum efficiency.

Sunshine State, here comes 600 megawatts of solar power: Like our 23-megawatt solar array in Apollo Beach, our new arrays will use technology to tilt the panels toward the sun throughout the day for maximum efficiency.

Whoever originally said “There’s nothing new under the sun” eons ago might’ve wished they could relocate to a Tampa Electric-served community in the months and years ahead, to a time when 600 megawatts (MW) of solar power energizes the grid – powering people’s lives and businesses and bringing a clean-energy future into focus for the Sunshine State.

The plan, which TECO announced this week, will eventually call for enough solar-generated electricity to power more than 100,000 homes (see news release). When the multi-phase project is complete in 2021, it will include 6 million individual solar panels spread out over multiple new generating stations. It has the enthusiastic endorsement of the Sierra Club and many other stakeholders – with the most important beneficiaries of the initiative being customers like you.

Solar panel installation at the site of Tampa Electric's 2-megawatt array at Tampa International Airport.

Solar panel installation at the site of Tampa Electric’s 2-megawatt array at Tampa International Airport.

For Tampa Electric, as an affiliate of Emera, Inc., it’s a significant leap forward in renewable energy: our new solar fields will provide 30 times more energy than our existing solar fields.

“We have long believed in the promise of renewable energy and we believe now is the time to add a large utility scale solar generation as the costs of construction have come down and while federal tax credits remain in place,” said Gordon Gillette, president and CEO of Tampa Electric and president of Florida Operations. “And Emera’s philosophy is to transition power generation to less carbon intensity while remaining affordable for our customers.”

The key to the initiative’s successful launch is our landmark agreement with parties representing customers at all levels – including the Florida Office of Public Counsel, the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, a consortium of hospitals and the federal government.

The Lennard High School solar array is an example of our longstanding commitment to bringing solar power to the community.

The Lennard High School solar array is an example of our longstanding commitment to bringing solar power to the community.

Tampa Electric is purchasing the land and solar panels to bring the new generating stations to life. Like our 23-MW solar field in Apollo Beach, they’ll feature the latest technology to maximize efficiency and to help ensure they’re protected during severe weather, as all our existing facilities were during Hurricane Irma. The initiative’s first of four phases will consist of two projects capable of generating a combined 150 MW and ready for service in September 2018, with the second phase to follow a year later with four facilities that will be able to produce 250 MW. The other two phases will finish in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The project’s impact on customers’ rates will be minimal – but the positive impact on the environment will be huge. And the importance of what this means for you and the environment we’re proud to share with you couldn’t be clearer: the Sunshine State has found a new way to earn its nickname.

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