Tampa Electric’s commitment to solar power at Tampa International Airport takes off

Panels capable of generating up to 2 MW of solar power at Tampa International Airport's South Economy Parking Garage.

Panels capable of generating up to 2 MW of solar power at Tampa International Airport’s South Economy Parking Garage.

And like that, Tampa International Airport has flown to the top of the list of Tampa Electric’s solar arrays in the community, with the dedication of the company’s first large-scale solar array at one of the best airports in the country now able to generate up to 2 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy for all 725,000 customers we serve.

On Feb. 11, airport officials, community leaders and others dedicated the array, atop the South Economy Parking Garage, which has the potential to generate enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of up to 250 homes. And it will produce an environmental offset on the order of removing nearly 350 cars from Tampa-area roads over the course of a year. As an added benefit, the array will provide shade for cars parked on the garage’s top level.

“This project is a really big deal for Tampa Electric – it’s our first large scale solar project ever, said Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas. “I want everyone here today to know we see this as even bigger than a 2 MW solar array that puts power into the grid, provides shade for travelers who park here, and is visible to air travelers as they arrive and depart from Tampa. The solar installation at Tampa International is the future and a celebration of partnering with our customers and communities to help make the area we serve better, greener and more sustainable.”

From left: John Ramil, TECO Energy president and CEO; Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas; Joe Lopano, CEO of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority; Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; and Robert Watkins, Tampa International Airport board member.

From left: John Ramil, TECO Energy president and CEO; Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas; Joe Lopano, CEO of Tampa International Airport; Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; and Robert Watkins, chairman of the board of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.

The array is the latest realization of Tampa Electric’s ongoing efforts to increase the number and size – and most importantly, the value to you – of solar projects throughout the Tampa Bay area. Our longtime support of solar power includes arrays at some of the most popular attractions locally, including the Florida Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry and LEGOLAND.

With a focus on education and community stewardship, we also have arrays at a growing number of schools that can function as emergency shelters for the public. The arrays not only teach the next generation about the importance – and also some of the limitations – of solar power; if needed, the arrays provide power to batteries that can serve critical loads at the school if the electric grid suffers damage from a catastrophic storm or other crisis.

But the biggest demonstration of our commitment to solar power is yet to come. In Apollo Beach, we’ll soon begin construction on a 23 MW array on company-owned land. Look for more details about this soon, and at tampaelectric.com/solar.

Meanwhile, back at the airport, a sunny winter morning was an ideal setting for the latest big step forward with renewable power for Tampa Electric customers, the community and people like the nearly 19 million visitors from around the world that the airport welcomed in 2015.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn shared that enthusiasm with resounding praise for the project and its partners.

“Today is a great day for the community,” he said. “This project is right by the environment and right by the bottom line; it’s good for everyone. Reducing our carbon footprint makes a difference. TECO, you should be proud of us as we’re proud of you.”

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