Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, has launched a significant expansion of solar power that will see the company invest approximately US$800 million to add another 600MW of solar power by the end of 2023.
By that point, Tampa Electric will have more than 1.25GW of solar power, enough to power more than 200,000 homes, with about 14% of the utility’s energy fueled by the sun, which would be the highest percentage of solar power of any utility in the state of Florida.
Nancy Tower, president and chief executive officer of Tampa Electric, said: “Our customers want a cleaner energy future for themselves – and their children. We are committed to continue to lead Tampa Electric toward cleaner energy while ensuring our prices remain affordable for customers.”
Over the life of these PV installations, this solar expansion would be cheaper for customers than keeping its current pipeline as it is today. Once completed, the solar expansion will cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 500,000 tons annually, which is roughly equal to removing 100,000 cars from the road.
This expansion will also alter Tampa Electric’s generation mix, as the utility continues to cut down on its use of coal. Over the past 20 years, Tampa Electric has reduced its use of coal by 92% and has cut its carbon footprint in half.
So far, Tampa Electric has installed 520MW of solar, with another 135MW to be built within a year.
Back in October 2019, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) approved cost recovery for the third phase of Tampa Electric’s latest pipeline of PV projects, a pair of solar projects with a combined generation capacity of 150MW.
Located in Hillsborough County, these two PV projects are the Wimauma Solar (74.8MW) and Little Manatee River Solar (74.5MW) installations, both of which are expected to be in service in 2020. Tampa Electric’s first phase of projects, the 145MW Payne Creek and Balm installations, were approved by the PSC in May 2018. A second phase of projects, totalling 260MW of installed capacity, was approved in October 2018.