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Arial shot of Tampa Electric solar farm courtesy of Tampa Electric.

Tampa Bay

TECO to raise rates slightly to fund two solar projects

The average rate payer will see about a $1 increase on their monthly bill.

The Florida Public Service Commission approved rate increases for Tampa Electric Company customers to cover costs for the utility’s solar plans.

The TECO cost recovery includes two solar projects that will create 150 megawatts of electricity.

“TECO’s expanded use of solar power continues to improve its fuel diversity and sustainability, which is good for the economy, as well as the environment,” PSC Chairman Art Graham said.

“Today’s approval of TECO’s third solar project phase brings the utility’s total to 550 megawatts of solar generation, which lowers fuel costs.”

The two projects sought $26.5 million in rate-payer increases that will add $1 to the monthly bill of a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours. TECO expects its $193 million in estimated fuel savings from the two projects to help offset rate increases.

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Both projects are in Hillsborough County in Wimauma and Little Manatee River. Both will generate about 75 megawatts of electricity. TECO expects the projects to be up and running before January.

The PSC approved TECO’s first solar projects in Payne Creek and Balm last May and a second round of solar projects in Lithia, Grange Hall, Peace Creek, Bonnie Mine and Lake Hannock last October.

A settlement agreement with the PSC blocked rate increases until Jan. 1, 2022, but the company is allowed to recover costs through rate increases for solar generation.

TECO serves more than 750,000 customers in Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas, and Pasco counties.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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