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TECO To Promote Renewable Power

TAMPA, March 30, 2004

Parking your car for a year or two is one way to help cut air pollution in the Tampa Bay area. For those who are not quite ready to give up their favorite internal combustion engine, Tampa Electric has been offering an alternative that it wants the state to extend.

Although its Renewable Energy Program has fallen short for the first three years, TECO hopes better marketing and other factors will enable it to persuade enough customers to join and make the environmentally friendly program pay for itself.

"We fully expect this to be self-sustaining by the end of 2006,'' said Howard Bryant, Tampa Electric's manager of rates and regulatory affairs.

Here's how it works:

The Renewable Energy Program lets customers voluntarily add $5 a month or more to their bills to help TECO generate some extra electricity from renewable sources, such as burning yard waste or methane gas from a landfill. The electric utility says the program can reduce carbon dioxide for each customer by about the same amount that is emitted by a car driving 25,000 miles.

The three-year pilot program has cost Tampa Electric $193,920 - $95,131 paid by program participants and $98,789 in a subsidy Tampa Electric has collected from all customers through a charge for energy conservation costs on their bills.

Today, the company plans to ask Florida's Public Service Commission for $150,000 of ratepayers' money and permission to continue the pilot program another three years.

According to the staff recommendation filed at the PSC, Tampa Electric will hire a consultant at a base fee of $16,000 to better market the program to customers more likely to care about protecting the environment. The consultant can earn $24,000 more if Tampa Electric adds 5,000 kilowatt- hours on top of the current monthly average of 1,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy.

Tampa Electric also plans to make the program more cost- efficient by generating more electricity from biomass, or yard waste, the cheapest renewable energy in the company's fuel mix.

''I think we are going to be heading toward success with the new marketing effort,'' said Alan Denham, program manager for Tampa Electric.

About 200 customers now subscribe to the program. The company plans to raise that number by joining with environmental groups and contacting companies whose strategic plans call for environmental stewardship.

''Many utilities have achieved 1 percent penetration,'' he said.

About 13 percent of the nation's electricity is generated by renewable energies: hydroelectric, solar power, gases other than natural gas and biomass.

Tampa Tribune

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