The Big Bend Modernization project has been completed with the removal of two additional 500-foot chimneys.

The skyline of Apollo Beach has forever been changed. Tampa Electric has recently completed demolition of two chimneys at Big Bend Power Station. Dating back to the 1970s, the power plant has been a familiar landmark in the community. Originally, the power plant had a total of four chimneys, with one having been removed in 2017.

According to Cheri Jacobs, media spokesperson for Tampa Electric, the Big Bend Modernization project was a huge undertaking and included demolition of portions of the plant that were no longer needed. This began as a five-year project. Removing the chimneys was the first and most visible phase of that dismantlement project. The 500-foot-tall chimneys were made of poured reinforced concrete, thus requiring a specialized team to dismantle them in pieces. Demolition took more than a year to complete.

“The interior of one chimney had previously been sprayed with a mastic material,” said Jacobs. “Removing and properly disposing of the material took longer than expected.”

Now there is one remaining chimney, Big Bend Unit 4, which runs on natural gas or coal and will continue to operate. Even with the one remaining chimney, the change is evident.

“Big Bend’s chimneys have been landmarks in Apollo Beach for decades,” said Allan Williams, director of Big Bend Power Station. “The new view is dramatically different.”

Tampa Electric’s goal is to maximize the use of recyclable materials and obsolete equipment to reduce construction costs. Some metal will be recycled or sold as scrap; some equipment, such as pumps and motors, will be sold on the secondhand market.

In the past two decades, Tampa Electric has reduced its use of coal by more than 90 percent and has cut its carbon footprint in half.

Longtime Apollo Beach resident Teo Leonard will miss the chimneys.

“Many of us relied on the stacks for our weather forecast, depending on how they are blowing would determine if a jet ski day or fishing day,” said Leonard. “Coming in after a day [on] the water, the chimneys guided us home. Many of us locals will miss all the stacks.”

Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, serves about 840,000 customers in West Central Florida. For more information, visit

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.