Earth Day News: We’re changing the skyline at Apollo Beach…and more!

Big Bend power station

A plume of steam rises from what will be the last tall chimney standing at Big Bend power station  

Here’s big news just in time for Earth Day: Our Big Bend power station, on the edge of Tampa Bay, will soon have just one chimney. 

The coal-fired power station originally had four chimneys, reaching into the sky some 500 feet. One chimney was dismantled in 2016, and two of the remaining three will be coming down this year.   

We recently modernized one Big Bend unit, repowering it with state-of-the-art, combined-cycle technology fueled by natural gas. It’s now our most efficient generator and includes low-profile chimneys. Now we’re dismantling the two obsolete chimneys, as a safety measure and to prevent unnecessary maintenance costs. 

Chimneys release steam from the power-generating process. The plant still includes one unit that can run on natural gas or coal, and its chimney will remain. Coal now accounts for only about 5 percent of our fuel mix. 

What does this modernization mean to the earth and you? It will save customers more than $700 million over its 30-year life, and improve the land, water, emissions (and some might say, the view) at Big Bend. 

On Earth Day and every day, our goal is to deliver reliable power while protecting our environment at every turn.     

Here are some more examples we’re particularly proud of:  

  • Since 2000, we’ve reduced our use of coal by about 90 percent and cut our carbon footprint in half. We’re making significant progress toward our vision of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 
  • We now have the ability to produce a gigawatt of electricity from the sun. A gigawatt is 1,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, or enough to power more than 160,000 homes. By the end of 2026, we’ll have more than 1,600 MW of solar, enough to serve 260,000 homes. Beyond creating cleaner air, our solar energy also helps to save fuel costs for customers.  
  • Our Manatee Viewing Center is a designated manatee sanctuary, free to the public to visit and enjoy. It’s also the cornerstone of our environmentally-focused Florida Conservation and Technology Center.  
  • We were the first utility in Florida to set up an Avian Protection Plan for migratory birds. We have employees specifically trained to help keep the birds and their nests safe.  

We wish you a Happy Earth Day!