Across Tampa, TECO is ready for sunny days with new solar power projects

November 10, 2015

People looking for a bright beacon of Tampa Electric’s commitment to solar power could focus their attention onTampa International Airport this week. But that wasn’t the only place where company team members continue to shine as they talk about how TECO is dedicated to bringing the value of photovoltaics to the community.
Latest stop: The top level of the south economy parking garage at Tampa International Airport, site of a 2-megawatt (MW) solar array that will generate the equivalent amount of power to serve 250 homes. With the array’s framework in place, crews installed its first photovoltaic panel on Oct. 26.
When the array is finished later this year, it will produce an environmental offset on the order of removing 350 cars from Tampa-area roadways over the course of a year. And people who park on the roof of the garage will have shade the array will provide.
“Tampa International Airport is a world-class point of entry and departure for West Central Florida, and that’s just one reason among several why it made sense for Tampa Electric to partner with it as a high-profile host for this exciting showcase for solar power,” said Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas. “Increasingly, people realize that solar power deserves a world-class stage and TECO wants to be part of that effort.”
First stop: Tampa Electric’s 10-kilowatt solar array at Lawton Chiles Elementary was one of several stops that a group of more than 50 people made on Oct. 24 on a tour of solar energy facilities in the Tampa Bay area. The tour, sponsored by ISES POWER – (the International Solar Energy Society / People Organizing for Worldwide Energy Reforms) at the University of South Florida – was part of a nationwide effort to showcase solar power in cities across the nation.
Wes Caldwell, meter operations engineer with Tampa Electric, shared with the tour group details of the Chiles solar array, which can provide power to the school in the event it must serve as an emergency shelter for the community. The event complemented Tampa Electric’s participation in the annual Solar Day at Chiles to help students get excited about the potential of solar power.
Don Kruse, on the executive committee of the Tampa Bay Sierra Club, was there to watch Caldwell in action.
“We interviewed people on the tour, and everybody loved TECO’s presentation the best – the stop at Chiles was the highlight,” Kruse said. “They really liked being able to walk up to the array and touch it.”
The array at Chiles – which is one of several at local schools – as well as other Tampa Electric-built arraysthroughout the community, will soon be joined by the largest solar project in the Tampa Bay area – a 25 MW project being built on land owned by Tampa Electric at the company’s Big Bend Power Station near Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center.
“It’s an exciting time when you think about solar power in this community,” said Shelly Aubuchon, program manager with Marketing & Program Development with Tampa Electric. “By embracing its potential with projects large and small, we hope to help everyone in the communities we’re proud to serve feel the excitement too.”