TECO responds to CL story

A new online solar calculator helps customers estimate how much it would cost to install a system at their home or business. The average residential PV installation is about 5 kW, while the average commercial PV system is about 25 kW. The calculator and details about how customers can install their own PV systems can be found at tampaelectric.com/renewable.

Tampa Electric’s newest solar energy projects will help the company and customers realize greater possibilities for solar power:

  • Tampa Electric’s new PV array at the Florida Aquarium, a 10,000-watt solar installation scheduled to open this month, includes a small PV array that will generate electricity to operate an interactive exhibit. This will let visitors control the operation of a solar-powered fountain by placing a shade over the solar panels that power the fountain.

  • At Tampa Electric’s Skills Training Center, the company will mount four PV modules, provided by Petra Solar, on top of poles for electric distribution and street lights. The arrays will be the focus of a year-long study to determine if this technology provides a cost-effective option to support future renewable portfolio standards. Over the project’s 12-month period, the company expects the solar modules to offset more than 2,500 kWh of electrical energy normally supplied to the utility grid by Tampa Electric’s generation plants.

  • In 2009, Tampa Electric partnered with the University of South Florida’s Power Center for Utility Explorations and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo to launch a two-part renewable energy project at the Zoo that will generate 15,000 watts of electricity for the electric grid and serve as an educational tool for students and the community. The first phase of the project was completed recently.

Tampa Electric’s new PV installations follow the 18,000-watt array Tampa Electric installed at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa; the 4,000-watt array at Walker Middle School in Odessa; a 7,000-watt array at Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach; and a 10,500-watt array at Middleton High School in Tampa. That’s a total of about 40,000 watts of solar energy.

The Middleton array supports the school’s curriculum and provides supplemental power for the school if it serves as an emergency shelter.

Tampa Electric also offers a Renewable Energy program that makes it easy for customers to purchase a portion of their electricity from renewable sources by signing up for $5 blocks of renewable energy. For each block purchased, Tampa Electric will produce and distribute 200 kWh of renewable energy. The program uses electricity generated in the state from renewable resources, such as solar and biomass.

As of the end of February, 2,700 Tampa Electric customers were purchasing approximately 3,785 blocks of renewable energy. This is equal to offsetting 757,000 kWh, or 647 tons of carbon dioxide monthly – the same as removing 80 cars from the road for one year.

Customers and organizations also can purchase renewable energy to power one-time events at a convention center, hotel, stadium or other location. Participation in the company’s Renewable Energy program helps technologies that create more energy from renewable sources. Customers can sign up and learn more about the company’s Renewable Energy program at tampaelectric.com/renewable.

“We believe renewables should be considered as part of a diverse energy supply portfolio, and in support of this, Tampa Electric continues to pursue options that can provide reliable and affordable energy to its customers,” said Tampa Electric President Gordon Gillette. “When we all work together for a cleaner environment, we can truly make a difference.”

The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) national statistics ranked Tampa Electric as high as the 96th percentile for cumulative conservation and 90th percentile for load management achievements for 2001-2007. The company’s energy-efficiency programs are some of the many ways Tampa Electric is balancing increased demands for electricity with a commitment to affordable rates, reliable service and environmental stewardship.

Two weeks ago, CL reported on a recent task force's report on efforts to make the city of Tampa more energy efficient.

The task force was a group of 18 individuals who teamed up with Tampa Electric Company on making recommendations regarding clean energy and combating climate change, and was created after citizens had called for the city to delay agreeing to a new 25-year franchise agreement with the local utility.

After our story was published, TECO reached out to CL with a request to comment.  Unfortunately, we were out of town when that happened.

But what I promised officials there was that we would reproduce a lengthy section of a press release they sent out just prior to Earth Day last week on what they say they're doing on the environmental front.  So, listed below, is  their response:

In March, Tampa Electric filed for approval from the Florida Public Service Commission to expand the company’s lineup of energy-efficiency programs for customers. In addition to the proposed programs and enhancements to existing programs, $1.5 million in incentives will be offered by Tampa Electric each year for five years to help customers install renewable technologies, such as photovoltaic (PV) solar systems and solar water heating. These new programs come as the company is completing its 10-year, $1.2 billion environmental investment program, significantly improving the region’s air quality and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

In 2009, more than 76 Tampa Electric customers installed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in their homes and businesses, an increase of 200 percent over 2008.

Of the 76 PV systems, 62 were installed at residences and 14 at businesses. The systems range from 1.3 kilowatt (kW) to 74 kW. In 2009, these 76 systems delivered more than 106,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity to the grid. As a result of bi-directional net metering, the owners of these systems received full retail value from Tampa Electric for that energy.

The 76 systems have a potential to generate over 900,000 kWh per year, enough to power 62 homes for one year and offset 800 tons of carbon dioxide. The company supports PV systems such as these and provides interconnection to the grid through a special bi-directional net meter installed at no cost to customers. To date, more than 600 kW of customer-owned PV has been interconnected with Tampa Electric’s grid.

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