Microgrid Pilot Program

Resilience and Innovation

Advantages for Environmental Sustainability, Reliability and Affordability

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A new pilot program relies on an emerging, cutting-edge technology to manage power reliably, efficiently and sustainably. BlockEnergy combines renewable solar energy with battery storage and local generation to create an energy system that can operate independently and can also seamlessly connect to the traditional utility grid as backup.

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Tampa Electric exploring new microgrid platform

Tampa Electric is participating in a new BlockEnergy platform, which is a new utility-owned, residential microgrid product.

This four-year pilot program is in the Medley subdivision within the Southshore Bay master-planned community in south Hillsborough County. It consists of about 40 new Lennar homes, all powered by BlockEnergy, and it will serve as the first residential deployment of the residential platform in the United States.

BlockEnergy combines renewable energy with battery storage and local generation to create an energy system, called a microgrid. Each home in the pilot program will have utility-owned rooftop solar panels and a BlockBox, containing battery storage and distributed controls, which is about the same size as an air-conditioning unit. These are all owned by Tampa Electric. Each home's BlockBox will connect to a neighborhood-level loop system, which shares power with all the homes in the microgrid.

The benefits of the BlockEnergy pilot program are:

  • Customers will have more reliable electricity because the microgrid is self-contained. A nearby power outage won't affect the microgrid.
  • There is no additional charge for this program. Customers pay the same rates for electricity use as other residential customers.
  • Customers can take pride in the fact that they are living in a community that receives a greater percentage of its energy from renewable sources and a has a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Customers are participating in a program that relies on an emerging, cutting-edge technology that manages power reliably, efficiently and sustainably.

This technology has been tested elsewhere. The Kirtland Resiliency Project at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., has been operating since December 2019.

 

 

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Emera Technologies' BlockEnergy FAQ

A. BlockEnergy is a new utility-owned, residential microgrid product by Emera Technologies. BlockEnergy combines renewable solar energy with battery storage and local generation to create an energy system that can operate independently and can also seamlessly connect to the traditional utility grid as backup. It can be deployed in new residential communities, to incorporate cleaner renewables with energy resilience. It uses state-of-the-art technology to address real-time fluctuations in home electricity use.
A. Microgrids are a new, emerging technology. Unlike a traditional power grid, which has several centralized power plants that serve thousands of customers, a microgrid is a small network that generates electricity for a single community, such as a neighborhood.
A. Emera Technologies is working with Lennar Homes and Metro Development Group for the Medley subdivision within the Southshore Bay master-planned community in Ruskin, in south Hillsborough County. It consists of about 40 new Lennar homes, all powered by BlockEnergy, and it will serve as the first installation of the residential platform in the United States.
A. Each home in Southshore Bay will have utility-owned rooftop solar panels and a Block Box, containing battery storage and distributed controls, which is about the same size as an air-conditioning unit. Each home's Block Box will connect to a neighborhood-level loop system, that will provide renewable energy to everyone in that community. The technology allows the neighborhood to disconnect from the grid during power outages, such as after severe weather.
A. BlockEnergy uses direct-current (DC) technology to integrate both battery storage and solar, which both naturally operate at DC voltages. This simplifies the control system, makes it easier to share energy and is more efficient, because the systems are directly connected.
A. The Kirtland Resiliency Project at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., has been operating since December 2019. This living laboratory – created in collaboration with Kirtland Air Force, Sandia National Laboratories (through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Emera Technologies) and the Department of Energy's Distributed Energy Technology Lab – has supplied 250 kilowatts of renewable electricity to a row of base houses and other installations consistently since the launch.
A. Emera Technologies' first BlockEnergy Smart Platform has operated seamlessly at Kirtland Air Force Base since December 2019. The 250-kilowatt, solar/battery microgrid is currently powering six base houses, a community center and a charging station for electric vehicles.
A. Emera Technologies is a subsidiary of Emera Inc., the international, publicly traded utility company that also owns Tampa Electric. Emera created the subsidiary to explore and develop emerging energy-related technologies.
A. No, this product is built and owned by a utility. It makes the most sense for newly constructed homes at this time.
A. This product would be good for home builders who want to incorporate renewable energy and resiliency into their community.
A. Tampa Electric is the host utility for Emera Technologies' new product in the Medley, SouthShore Bay development. Tampa Electric purchased the equipment and will own it for the duration of its life, which is expected to be about 25 to 30 years.
A. Tampa Electric is impressed by the technology and has followed the previous successful pilot projects using BlockEnergy. We are optimistic about the potential of BlockEnergy for residential neighborhoods, as it offers many advantages for environmental sustainability, reliability and affordability. While we are committed to moving forward with a pilot program filed at the Public Service Commission and hope for success with this project, we will be doing a careful evaluation to ensure it's a good fit for us and our customers.
A. There is no additional charge for this program. Customers pay the same rate for electricity use as other residential customers who receive their electricity directly from Tampa Electric's grid.
A. No, it is not. Although the microgrid uses solar panels, these panels and the energy they generate are all owned by Tampa Electric. Homes are not net metered. Homeowners do have the right to install their own solar panels on the roof (See "Can I install my own solar panels?" below).
A.
  • Customers will have more reliable electricity because the microgrid is self-contained. A nearby power outage won't affect the microgrid.
  • There is no additional charge for this program. Customers pay the same rates for electricity use as other residential customers.
  • Customers can take pride in the fact that they are living in a community that receives a greater percentage of its energy from renewable sources and a has a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Customers are participating in a program that relies on an emerging, cutting-edge technology that manages power reliably, efficiently and sustainably.
A. Each Block Box comes with LED lights on the equipment for pedestrian safety. On occasion, you may see those lights turn on or off, especially during the early testing phases of the program. The lights are decorative and do not indicate whether the unit is functioning.
A. Tampa Electric will maintain its equipment, including the solar panels, for the life of the microgrid. If the pilot program is discontinued, the homeowner could choose to keep the solar panels (and have them net metered) or have Tampa Electric remove them. Tampa Electric will continue to provide electric service to homes in the community, whether through the microgrid or through conventional service.
A. On the remote chance that damage occurs, Tampa Electric will restore any property damage caused by our equipment, employees or contractors.
A. Yes, you may install your own solar panels on any roof space that Tampa Electric is not using for its pilot project. However, Tampa Electric would have to remove your home from the microgrid program and would instead serve your home through a traditional electric connection. Tampa Electric's solar panels would still remain on your roof to serve other participants in the program.
A. Because of the added reliability of the microgrid, we do not expect homes in the microgrid to need alternate forms of power, such as a backup generator. The batteries provide backup power to your home. Homeowners who choose to install or use a generator should hire a licensed and qualified electrician to ensure that the generator is installed in accordance with applicable laws, codes and requirements.
A. The pilot program includes about 40 homes in SouthShore Bay. Tampa Electric has no plans to expand the pilot program to additional homes.

 

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