Regulators pave the way for Tampa Electric to significantly expand solar power
PSC approves agreement; Tampa Electric to have highest percentage of solar energy in Florida
TAMPA, November 6, 2017
The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) today approved a landmark agreement that will enable Tampa Electric to significantly expand its use of solar power – to become the Florida utility with the highest percentage of solar energy generation.
During the next four years, Tampa Electric will add 6 million solar panels in 10 new photovoltaic solar projects. In total, Tampa Electric will install 600 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic solar energy to its fleet, which is enough electricity to power more than 100,000 homes. When complete, nearly 7 percent of Tampa Electric's energy generation will come from the sun – a higher percentage of solar than any other Florida utility.
"This is a win for customers and a win for the environment," said Gordon Gillette, president and chief executive officer of the Tampa-based utility. "We have long believed in the promise of clean and renewable energy, and we are so pleased to have the support of the commissioners as we make these significant strides in solar energy."
The agreement, which the PSC approved unanimously today, also freezes Tampa Electric's general base rates for four years. The parties involved in the agreement include Florida's Office of Public Counsel, the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group, a consortium of hospitals and the federal government, which represents MacDill Air Force Base. The company will continue to be able to recover costs related to storms, environmental and fuel.
The first phase of solar construction, which includes two projects totaling almost 150 MW, is scheduled to be complete in September 2018. The subsequent three phases are scheduled to be complete by Jan. 1 of 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Tampa Electric will invest about $850 million in these solar projects. As the phases are completed, they will cost a typical residential customer (who uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours, or kwh, per month) about $1 on the average monthly residential bill. Over their lifetimes, the projects will provide savings to customers in the form of lower fuel costs.
Currently, Tampa Electric owns and operates solar installations that can generate nearly 27 MW. The significant addition of solar energy is part of our strategy to reduce our carbon footprint, which started in 1999 with the repowering of the former coal-fired Gannon Station to natural gas, and most recently included the expansion of the Polk Power Station's natural gas units to combined cycle.
Tampa Electric, one of Florida's largest investor-owned electric utilities, serves about 750,000 customers in West Central Florida. Tampa Electric is a subsidiary of Emera Inc., a geographically diverse energy and services company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.