The skyline of Apollo Beach will change in the coming months, as Tampa Electric will remove two of the three chimneys at Big Bend Power Station.
“Big Bend’s chimneys have been landmarks in Apollo Beach for decades,” said Allan Williams, director of Big Bend Power Station. “This will dramatically change the landscape.”
The Big Bend Modernization project repowered Big Bend Unit 1 with state-of-the-art combined-cycle technology and eliminated coal as that unit’s fuel. The project is part of the company’s strategy to reduce carbon, and it will improve the land, water and air emissions at Big Bend as part of TECO’s legacy of environmental stewardship.
With the modernization project complete, removing the chimneys is part of a five-year plant dismantlement project. Preliminary work has begun, and the most visible progress will begin in May. The removal of the chimneys will be complete in the autumn.
The chimneys were built in the 1970s and served Big Bend Units 1, 2 and 3 for about five decades. Units 1 and 2 began operating in 1970 and ’73, and they shared a chimney. Unit 3 began operating in ’76 and will retire in April. An older chimney was removed in 2016.
The 500-foot-tall chimneys are made with an inner liner of brick and have an outer shell of poured reinforced concrete. They will be dismantled in pieces by a specialized team, beginning at the top. The large pieces of concrete will be removed from inside the structure.
Tampa Electric expects to recover 10 percent of construction costs through recycling and reselling some obsolete portions of the plant. Some metal will be recycled or sold as scrap; some equipment, such as pumps and motors, will be sold on the secondhand market. This is the first time Tampa Electric has recycled metals or components on such a large scale.
Big Bend’s Unit 4 remains in operation with natural gas or coal as its fuel, and its chimney will remain in use. 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.
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. For more information, visit www.tampaelectric.com.