Tampa Electric wins PSC clearance for solar power projects

Solar energy farm

The Public Service Commission approved a deal Monday that allows Tampa Electric Co. to build five solar-generating plants and pass along the $46 million tab to its ratepayers.

The hit to the average homeowner will be $2.46 cents, effective on Jan. 1. Customers would be entitled to refunds if any of the projects are delayed.

Under the settlement agreement between TECO and the Office of Public Counsel, customers also could save money on natural gas and coal the utility no longer would need to burn.

“All the power that’s generated from the solar facilities, obviously, Tampa Electric has to purchase less fuel to generate power from their other facilities,” Public Counsel J.R. Kelly said following the vote.

PSC Chairman Art Graham praised the deal.

“TECO’s solar projects increase Florida’s renewable development, which is good for the economy, as well as the environment,” Graham said in a written statement.

“Today’s approval benefits customers with a solar plan that allows TECO’s retail rates to be among the lowest in Florida.”

TECO will construct the facilities in Hillsborough and Polk counties. They’ll generate an estimated 260 megawatt hours in total.

The PSC last year approved an agreement with TECO freezing its base rates through Jan. 1, 2022, but allowing the company to recapture the costs of installing solar equipment. The commission OK’d another two solar facilities in May.

The underlying deal also required the company to rebate to customers a portion of its savings from last year’s Republican federal tax cut for high earners and corporations.

Paired with the fuel savings, “it essentially offsets the entire impact of the solar base rate adjustment,” said Carlos Aldazabal, TECO’s  VP for regulatory affairs.

Michael Moline

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.


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