Tampa Electric doubles goal for solar-powered homes

Solar energy farm
It also plans to retire another coal unit nearly two decades ahead of schedule.

Tampa Electric announced this week its plans to double the number of homes it powers by solar energy from 100,000 today to 200,000 by 2023.

The utility brought the Durrance Solar project online Jan. 1, making Tampa Electric the Florida utility with the most solar power. The 60-megawatt project in Polk County is Tampa Electric’s 10th utility-scale photovoltaic solar project.

“These significant milestones are improving the land, water and air for all Tampa Electric customers,” said Nancy Tower, President and CEO of Tampa Electric. “We are saving our customers money, while becoming cleaner and greener in measurable ways.”

But Tampa Electric is not stopping there. It has already begun construction on the next wave of 600 MW of solar, with four projects totaling 225 MW scheduled to be complete by the end of 2021. Upon completion, Tampa Electric projects will produce enough solar energy to power 200,000 Florida homes. This carbon reduction resulting from this effort is equivalent to the removal of one million cars from the roads.

The company also plans to retire a coal unit, Big Bend Unit 3, in 2023, nearly two decades early.

Tampa Electric’s Big Bend 3 began operating as a coal unit in 1976 with a life expectancy of 65 years. Tampa Electric’s move to retire the unit 18 years early will save customers money, as continuing the unit’s operation past 2023 would require significant capital investments for improvements.

Tampa Electric previously announced its plans to retire Big Bend Unit 2 in November 2021. The retirement of Unit 2 is part of the $850 million Big Bend Modernization project scheduled to be completed by 2023. This project will have combined-cycle natural gas units that are highly efficient and capable of producing 1,090 megawatts of electricity.

The modernization of these power plants increases the efficiency of fuel generation and lowers the costs for consumers and the emissions being produced, proving once again that Tampa Electric is dedicated to transitioning power generation to less carbon intensity while also maintaining affordable rates for customers.

For the manatee lovers out there, don’t worry; the manatees in the Big Bend discharge canal will not be affected by these retirements. The remaining Bed Bend units will continue to produce enough warm water to provide the beloved manatees with refuge from the cold.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

One comment

  • JOHN WING, Professional Engr.

    January 22, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    Our LWV & Sierra climate committees convinced Lakeland to close LE’s 365 MW Mac-3 coal burner by ~3/31/2021 and build 50 MW solar farm. LE plans to meet predicted net 139 MW capacity shortfall by purchase as needed from OU at undisclosed fixed rate for up to 3 years. We want LE to build more solar farms to minimize cost – following TECO’s proven success. We need allies. We need know-how regarding finding land (Mosaic contacts?), transmission lines, grid tie-ins, adversaries with outdated attitudes, and tech details. I expect our plans can be justified by economic benefits alone. However, we place strong value on the major clean & green power benefits.

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