Tampa Electric to modernize one Big Bend unit to operate on natural gas, retire one unit
The modernization project will make utility cleaner, greener, and will save customers money
TAMPA, May 24, 2018
As part of Tampa Electric's commitment to clean energy, the utility is making significant changes to our Big Bend Power Station:
- We will modernize Unit 1, after 50 years of operation, and will use natural gas combined-cycle technology, which will eliminate coal as this unit's fuel.
- We will retire Unit 2 in 2021, after 48 years of operation.
"This project will improve the land, water and air emissions at Big Bend," said Nancy Tower, president and chief executive officer of Tampa Electric. "Coupled with our significant increase in solar power, these changes will make Tampa Electric substantially cleaner and greener than it is today. This investment in cleaner generation will also provide significant savings to customers through lower expenses for fuel and maintenance of the existing units."
The project will reuse existing equipment, including the cooling system, which will continue to produce the warm water that attracts manatees to the power station's discharge canal each winter.
The $853 million Big Bend project will repower Big Bend Unit 1 with state-of-the-art combined-cycle technology. When complete in 2023, the project will be capable of producing 1,090 MW in a two-on-one format. The units were originally designed to burn coal, and in recent years we added natural gas as a secondary fuel to all four units. As part of this investment, Big Bend Unit 2 will be retired in 2021.
This will significantly change the company's fuel mix. In 2017, 67 percent of Tampa Electric's energy was generated from natural gas, 24 percent was from coal and about 9 percent was from other sources, including solar. In 2023, it will be 75 percent natural gas, 12 percent coal, about 7 percent solar, and about 6 percent other sources.
On April 18, Tampa Electric filed a Site Certification Application with the Department of Environmental Protection to approve the modernization of Big Bend Unit 1. We expect approval in May 2019.
This significant project is part of the company's 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. This is consistent with Emera's strategic focus of transitioning power generation to less carbon intensity while remaining affordable for our customers.
We also recently announced plans to dramatically increase the amount of solar power in our generating fleet. During the next three years, Tampa Electric will add 6 million solar panels in 10 new photovoltaic solar projects, making us the Florida utility with the highest percentage of solar power by 2021.
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.