Monday, August 20, 2018
Business

Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

APOLLO BEACH ó Tampa Electric Co. is taking a big step away from coal. The Tampa-based utility is spending $853 million to convert its coal-fired Unit 1 at its Big Bend Power Station to natural gas and retire coal-fired Unit 2 in 2021.

Five workers died in June 2017 after performing a known-to-be-dangerous maintenance procedure on Unit 2. The incident resulted in a $126,749 fine from federal regulators and a "willful" designation for safety violations found following an investigation. Tampa Electric is currently appealing the designation.

According to Tampa Electric spokesperson Cherie Jacobs, the June incident was not the primary reason for closing Unit 2.

"Safety is our first priority, and it influences everything we do," Jacobs said. "But it is not the driving force behind this project. This decision was in the works for more than a year, and this decision was made because it is in the best interest of customers."

Tampa Electric CEO Nancy Tower cited a plan to rely less on coal shortly after she took the helm at the utility at the beginning of the year. The changes at Big Bend dovetail with that strategy.

"Coupled with our significant increase in solar power, these changes will make Tampa Electric substantially cleaner and greener than it is today," Tower said in a release Thursday. "This investment in cleaner generation will also provide significant savings to customers through lower expenses for fuel and maintenance of the existing units."

Revamping the Apollo Beach facility will take place by 2023. Tampa Electric did not provide an estimate for how much customersí monthly bills would increase if the project is approved by state regulators, but that uptick wouldnít happen until after the project is finished.

After the revamp, Big Bend will still have two units that operate on coal with natural gas as their secondary source of power, Jacobs said.

The natural gas unit will be able to produce 1,090 megawatts.

Read the investigation: Hellfire from above>

The switch will change the companyís energy mix. About 75 percent of the energy Tampa Electric produces will be from natural gas at the completion of the project, 12 percent coal, 7 percent solar and 6 percent from "other sources."

As of 2017, 67 percent of the utilityís energy comes from natural gas, 24 percent from coal and 9 percent from other sources including solar.

Tampa Electricís move away from coal is typical of what other utilities around the country are doing, said Susan Glickman, Florida director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

"As the cost of solar drops dramatically, the economic opportunity with solar is increasing, and power generated with fossil fuels is becoming more and more uncompetitive," she said. "Plus you have the environmental impact of coal-fired plants which put out the biggest source of mercury pollution and is responsible for vast amounts of greenhouse gas pollution."

Getting coal out of the mix is a good step in the right direction, Glickman said. "From an environmental perspective, any time we can move away from coal, itís a very good thing."

MORE: Go here for more Business News

Contact this reporter at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

Comments
TECO customers wonít pay for hurricane recovery costs

TECO customers wonít pay for hurricane recovery costs

Itís official ó Tampa Electric Co. customers wonít be paying for hurricane recovery costs. State regulators on Monday unanimously approved the utilityís request to use savings under the new federal tax law to cover hurricane-related costs."The ratepa...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Red Tide or not, Pinellas County confident it will reach record tourism tax dollars

Red Tide or not, Pinellas County confident it will reach record tourism tax dollars

Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater, Pinellas Countyís tourism arm, is on par to surpass the $54.7 million it collected in bed tax money last fiscal year. Even if a bout of Red Tide hits the beaches hard. It would be the highest amount of money the count...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Canadaís Flair Airlines to offer new nonstop service between Winnipeg and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport

Canadaís Flair Airlines to offer new nonstop service between Winnipeg and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport

CLEARWATER ó Canada-based Flair Airlines on Monday said it will launch nonstop flights between Winnipeg and six Sunbelt destinations, including St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport."Having brought low-fare service to 10 Canadian cities this summ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Hernando Business Digest for Aug. 24

Business digestBrieflyCHICK DAYS AT TRACTOR SUPPLY: Tractor Supply, 18741 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, is celebrating Chick Days now through Sept. 23. Although some may associate springtime with starting a flock, experts agree that late summer is a gre...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa Bay, state gas prices down 5 cents over the week

Tampa Bay, state gas prices down 5 cents over the week

Summer is winding down, and so are gas prices. Florida pump prices averaged $2.76 per gallon Monday, down five cents over the week. Thatís just ahead of Tampa Bayís $2.72 per gallon average, which was also down five cents since last week according to...
Updated: 6 hours ago
PepsiCo buys Israelís SodaStream for $3.2 billion

PepsiCo buys Israelís SodaStream for $3.2 billion

JERUSALEM ó Beverage giant PepsiCo on Monday purchased Israelís fizzy drink maker SodaStream for $3.2 billion, a boon for a company that has enjoyed a resurgence after being targeted by anti-Israel boycotters in the past. PepsiCo said it was acquirin...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Volkswagen scam: How will Florida spend its windfall from the diesel-gate settlement

Volkswagen scam: How will Florida spend its windfall from the diesel-gate settlement

The state has a challenge: How to spend a windfall from the Volkswagen diesel-gate scandal. The German manufacturer agreed to pay $2 billion to promote zero-emission vehicles and spend billions more to buy back or modify most of the cars. Nearly $3 b...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny,Iím a recent college grad whoís been working an entry-level job for the past year. I only make about $33,000 a year, but Iím doing OK. Iím able to pay my bills without taking on more debt. One of the reasons Iím able to do so is that I dri...
Published: 08/17/18
Updated: 08/19/18
Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

ST. PETERSBURG ó A political newcomer seeking a Pinellas County Commission seat has faced accusations of physical abuse and stalking from her former fiance, who twice sought court-ordered protection from her.Both allegations came after Democrat Amy K...
Published: 08/17/18
Tampa Bayís seventh renovated Winn-Dixie opens in Hernando County

Tampa Bayís seventh renovated Winn-Dixie opens in Hernando County

SPRING HILL ó The latest Winn-Dixie remodel opened in Hernando County on Thursday.This marks the seventh remodeled Winn-Dixie parent company Southeastern Grocers has unveiled in Tampa Bay this year. The chain promised renovations following emerging f...
Published: 08/17/18