A big win for the environment, the community and Tampa Electric customers deserves a big celebration – and that was the scene at TECO Plaza on June 16 as TECO leaders and team members joined community leaders to celebrate the Polk Power Station Regional Reclaimed Water Project and its 2015 Edison Award from the Edison Electric Institute, which represents Tampa Electric and all U.S. investor-owned electric companies.
TECO Energy President and CEO John Ramil kicked things off in a packed TECO Plaza atrium, echoing his previous enthusiasm about the project that will divert reclaimed water from Polk County, Lakeland and Mulberry to Tampa Electric’s Polk Power Station – where instead of adding harmful nitrogen to local waterways, the reclaimed water will fill a critical need in the process to generate reliable, affordable electricity for Tampa Electric customers.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was among those who praised the project for benefitting the environment as well as TECO’s business.
“This is the kind of model we’d like to use,” Buckhorn added in reference to ways the Polk Power Station Regional Reclaimed Water Project can inspire similar efforts in Tampa. “Thank you, TECO, for making us proud.”
Other speakers at the project celebration included Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas; Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas; Tom Hernandez, vice president of Energy Supply with Tampa Electric; and Robert Beltran, executive director of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), which contributed $45 million to the water project.
“Sea grass levels in Tampa Bay are up to more than 40,000 acres – the highest level since 1950,” Beltran said. “It’s a testament to the great work that companies like TECO do.”
Gillette credited the culture at TECO that spurs innovation and environmental stewardship and Tampa Electric’s community partners in the project. He mentioned that Tampa Electric has received other national environmental awards and recognition. He also stressed that we couldn’t have accomplished what we did without the cooperation and investment of SWFWMD, the cities of Lakeland and Mulberry and Polk County.
A big theme at the celebration, echoed by multiple speakers, was the future.
“Just wait for the next four years,” Buckhorn said, referencing Tampa Electric’s hometown for well over a century. “This is going to be a different place and TECO’s going to be part of it.”