Big Bend Solar II Phase 2. (Photos courtesy of Tampa Electric.)

Three new Tampa Electric solar plants began producing electricity from the sun in recent weeks, helping the company reach a new milestone in its significant solar expansion.

Tampa Electric’s solar projects can now produce 1,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, also called a gigawatt, enough to power more than 160,000 homes. This wave of solar construction included three new solar projects in Hillsborough County: Laurel Oaks Solar, Riverside Solar and Big Bend Solar II Phase 2.

“Thanks to our strategic investment in solar power, Tampa Electric customers saved about $80 million in fuel costs last year,” said Archie Collins, president and chief executive officer of Tampa Electric. “At a time when fuel costs are escalating, we know how important these savings are for customers. And this year, we expect to generate even more power from the sun.”

In conjunction with the recently completed upgrade to the Big Bend Power Station, Tampa Electric’s solar investments have helped to dramatically change how the company creates electricity. In 2023, the company’s fuel mix is expected to be about 85 percent natural gas, nearly 10 percent solar and only 5 percent coal.

The company currently has another 230 MW of solar power under construction, with more planned by the end of 2025. At that time, Tampa Electric will have more than 1,600 MW of solar, which will be able to serve 260,000 homes. When those projects are complete, Tampa Electric will have about 17 percent of its energy generated from the sun — the highest percentage of solar generation of any utility in the state.

Tampa Electric’s investment in solar energy helps to:

Save fuel costs for customers and reduce the impact of volatile natural gas prices. In 2022 alone, solar power saved customers $80 million in fuel costs.

Conserve water. By repurposing former agricultural land for solar investments, Tampa Electric has saved more than 4.3 billion gallons of water in an area of the state with critical concerns about water use.

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Tampa Electric is committed to a cleaner-energy future, and these projects will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2.35 million tons every year, which is roughly equal to removing 500,000 cars from the road.

Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, serves about 830,000 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.

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