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Tampa Electric wins grant to install solar power in school

ODESSA, May 5, 2004

Solar power gets high marks at Charlie Walker Middle School in Odessa where Tampa Electric is participating with the School District of Hillsborough County, Florida Department of Environmental Protection/Florida Energy Office (DEP/FEO) and the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) to turn solar energy into electricity.

The DEP/FEO made available $600,000 for a statewide program to be administered by FSEC at the University of Central Florida. Rebates for individual projects were available for utilities, schools or corporate sponsors, ranging up to $25,000 per Photovoltaic (PV) system for selected school sites. Photovoltaics are semiconductor devices that convert sunlight into direct current electricity. A $25,000 rebate was awarded by FSEC for the PV system installation at Walker Middle School. In addition, Tampa Electric will spend $23,000 to assist with the installation and perform research & development activities on the system.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at the school on Friday, May 7th at 10:00 am. Walker Middle School is located at 8282 North Mobley Road, Odessa, Florida 33556.

In the event of a local emergency, the 4-kilowatt system, with built in battery backup, will generate electricity produced by the solar system, and be diverted to the school to operate lighting and other necessities. During normal conditions, Tampa Electric anticipates the renewable energy produced by the PV system to be distributed to the company’s grid. According to Alan Denham, Renewable Energy program manager, “The electricity produced from this solar system should fit nicely with our current sources of renewable energy generated from solar, biomass and landfill gas, all of which support Tampa Electric’s Renewable Energy program.”

Denham said Walker Middle School was chosen on the basis of several factors.

“We selected Walker in part because of its designation as a primary First Aid shelter in the event of a local disaster. Solar power with battery back up can take on vital importance if normal electricity service becomes unavailable,” he said. “Another reason is the benefits students will gain by studying PV technology and the benefits it provides to our environment,” he added.

Walker Middle School principal Wynne Tye enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to have a resident system like this one for study and observation. “One of the district’s strategies is to increase community and interagency collaboration, and this project is a perfect example of that,” she said.

Tampa Electric will monitor the interconnection and integration of the solar PV system with the electrical grid, Denham said. The company will also evaluate the performances, usage patterns and benefits of the system as an emergency energy source.

The unit will be installed by a certified PV contractor. When operational, performance data for the system will be accessible from the Internet from the Web site operated by FSEC. Denham said a corresponding link would be established on Tampa Electric’s Renewable Energy Web site at

Tampa Electric customers can participate in the Renewable Energy subscription-based program. For as little as $5 per month, added to a customer’s electric bill, Tampa Electric will deliver one-block of electricity (100kWh) generated from renewable sources to the homes and businesses served by the utility. Each subscribed block replaces more than 1,400 pounds of coal a year, or is equivalent to planting one-third an acre of trees. Business customers can also participate as Power Partners at various subscription levels. To learn more or to partner with Tampa Electric, visit or call (813) 228-4848.

Tampa Electric Company is the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy, Inc. (NYSE:TE), a diversified holding company of energy-related businesses that include Peoples Gas System, TECO Transport, TECO Coal, TECO Wholesale Generation and TECO Solutions.

For more information, contact Ross Bannister at (813) 228-4945.

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