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Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center reopens after record-breaking season

TAMPA, October 31, 2006

The center, open annually from November 1 through April 15, features an expanded boardwalk with more observation areas for viewing manatees and an interactive Web camera with a live view of the center that can be accessed at The manatees converge on the clean, warm water reservoir adjacent to Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station in numbers that have topped 300 when the water temperature of Tampa Bay drops below 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

About 270,000 visitors came to the center for its 20th anniversary season, nearly 100,000 more than its previous attendance record.

“We’re excited to begin another tremendous season that showcases Florida’s unique habitat and educates people of all ages about how we can all work to preserve it,” said Wendy Valle, environmental specialist at the Manatee Viewing Center. “Our mission is to make learning about the Florida manatee and our local ecosystem fascinating and fun for visitors of all ages.”

A new solar energy display has been built at the center this season, teaching guests about renewable sources of energy. The seven-kilowatt system, installed on the roof of the Manatee Museum, includes 40 solar panels that convert sunlight to electricity which will be used to support Tampa Electric’s Renewable Energy Program. Visitors can also enjoy the center’s vibrant bird and plant life, gift shop, educational center and the South Shore Café.

In 1986, Tampa Electric built a manatee observation platform near its Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach, officially welcoming the first manatee watchers to the station’s warm water reservoir. Since then, the Manatee Viewing Center has hosted more than 1.8 million visitors who have come to learn about these endangered marine mammals, and to watch manatees gather near the center’s observation platforms.

The center, accessible to handicapped visitors, is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from November 1 through April 15. Parking is also free. For more information, visit or call 813-228-4289 to make group reservations or to get directions to the center.

Tampa Electric Company is the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy, Inc. (NYSE: TE), an integrated energy-related holding company with core businesses in the utility sector, complemented by a family of unregulated businesses. Tampa Electric Company is a regulated utility with both electric and gas divisions (Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas System). Other subsidiaries are engaged in waterborne transportation, coal and synthetic fuel production and independent power.

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