When the projects are complete, nearly seven percent of Tampa Electric's energy generation will come from the sun, a higher percentage of solar than any other Florida utility.

Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities that serves about 750,000 customers in West Central Florida, was given the thumbs up by the Florida Public Service Commission last month for the initial phase of its efforts to expand the use of solar energy in Florida.

Tampa Electric’s solar projects are considered cost-effective by the PSC and meet the cost-cap requirements stipulated in the November 2017 agreement. The agreement enables Tampa Electric to significantly expand its use of solar power, giving them the highest percentage of solar energy produced by a Florida utility when the project is completed.

“We are pleased to have the support of the Florida Commission,” said Nancy Tower, president of the Tampa-based utility. “Clean energy is the future for utilities and our solar projects are a win for customers and a win for the environment.”

According to the company, Tampa Electric plans to 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 per month) about $1 on the average monthly residential bill. Over the customer’s lifetime, the projects will provide savings to them in the form of lower fuel costs. Customers will see the slight increase on their bills beginning in September.

“Tampa Electric is becoming cleaner and greener,” said Cherie Jacobs, spokesperson for Tampa Electric. “Solar power plays a key role in our fuel mix for our future years.”

Tampa Electric launched its Renewable Energy project, now called Sun Select, in 2000 with the construction of its first solar panel at the Museum of Science and Industry. Today, they have seven community solar sites that generate 135 kilowatts, including a 2-megawatt (MW) site at Tampa International Airport and a 23-MW site in Apollo Beach, completed last year.

During the next four years, Tampa Electric plans to add six million solar panels in 10 new photovoltaic solar projects. In total, Tampa Electric will install 600 MW of photovoltaic solar energy to its fleet, which is enough electricity to power more than 100,000 homes.

The first phase of Tampa Electric’s solar construction is scheduled to be completed in September 2018. The subsequent three phases are scheduled to be complete by January 1 of 2019, 2020 and 2021. When complete, nearly seven percent of Tampa Electric’s energy generation will come from the sun, a higher percentage of solar than any other Florida utility.

For more information, visit tampaelectric.com.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.