Our newly modernized Big Bend power plant in Apollo Beach
In 1887, we installed downtown Tampa’s first electric streetlight. Crowds gathered in awe on Franklin Street,and newspapers reported on the “light show.” More than 130 years later, we still work hard to innovate for our customers and our community. We’re particularly proud of two recent milestones – a shining power plant modernization and a glowing addition of solar power.
An Energetic Upgrade
The modernization of our power plant at Big Bend in Apollo Beach is complete. The plant’s Unit 1 was repowered with state-of-the-art combined-cycle technology to eliminate coal as its fuel. It’s now our most efficient generator.
The modernized unit can produce 1,090 megawatts (MW), or enough energy to power more than 250,000 homes. Unit 2 is no longer in use, and Unit 3 will retire in spring 2023. Unit 4 remains in operation with coal or natural gas.
The Big Bend modernization project was completed on time and under budget, andwill save customers more than $700 million over its 30-year life, while improving the land, water and emissions at Big Bend.
A Sunny Outlook
We brought three new solar plants online in Hillsborough County, lighting the way to a milestone in our solar expansion goals – 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. Capturing our legendary sunshine won’t stop there. We have another 230 MW of solar power under construction, with more planned by the end of 2025. By then, we’ll have more than 1,600 MW of solar, enough to serve 260,000 homes.
Solar power is a critical step in our path toward a net-zero carbon future.
The Bottom Line
Our upgraded Big Bend Power Station and our solar investments have dramatically changed how we create electricity. This year our fuel mix is expected to be about 85 percent natural gas, nearly 10 percent solar and only 5 percent coal. That will continue to shift as we move forward with our long-term plans to reduce carbon emissions.
Beyond creating cleaner air, our solar energy also helps to save fuel costs for customers by reducing the impact of volatile natural gas prices. In 2022 alone, solar power saved our customers nearly $80 million in fuel costs.
A bit less fanfare than 1887’s first electric streetlight, but still worthy of celebration!