Make us your home page
Instagram

Tampa Electric signs deal to deliver solar energy

More than 100,000 solar panels, tilting in unison to catch maximum rays at a Polk County phosphate mine no longer in use, will supply electricity to 3,400 Tampa Electric customers starting in 2011.

For a 110-year-old utility long wedded to burning coal and natural gas, the 25-megawatt solar project will be the first major effort to harness one of Florida's most plentiful resources.

Parent company TECO Energy has agreed to buy the power for 25 years from Energy 5.0, a West Palm Beach renewable energy company founded in 2006. Energy 5.0 will spread the photovoltaic silicon panels across 300 to 400 acres in Polk and transmit the sun's captured energy to TECO.

"All the risk of performance is on us, not on them. If we somehow fail to deliver, TECO pays nothing," said Vince Zodiaco, president of Energy 5.0. "I'd say it's pretty smart."

Solar works when particles of sunlight, called photons, knock loose, minute electrons from silicon in the panels. While solar power still costs about three times that of coal-fired power, TECO customers will barely feel it in their bills.

That's because the project will produce energy for only one-half of 1 percent of the utility's 667,000 customers. TECO services all of Hillsborough County, part of Polk, Oldsmar in Pinellas County and the Dade City area of Pasco County.

The exact price of the solar power relative to hydrocarbon power won't be known for a while, TECO spokesman Rick Morera said. Energy 5.0 has yet to choose its silicon panel supplier. Nor has the Florida Public Service Commission approved the deal yet.

"We are hoping that if this 25-megawatt project works, we'll continue to build on that," Morera said.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has been pushing renewable energy on the premise that burning coal and natural gas contributes to global warming. Lakeland Electric and Miami-based Florida Power & Light also have solar projects under way.

Over the 25 years of the contract, the Polk solar collectors, when compared with natural gas turbines, would prevent TECO from releasing 1.45 million tons of carbon dioxide.

"I applaud TECO and Energy 5.0 on this exciting partnership that moves Florida closer to our goal of increasing energy diversity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Crist said in a news release.

Energy 5.0 will have to ensure that the panels, perched on short poles, are resistant to hurricanes. Zodiaco is a 40-year power industry veteran with extensive experience in coal production. He said the beauty of solar is that fuel is perpetually free. The expense comes from the solar panels, a relatively inefficient technology in which only 10 to 20 percent of sunlight is converted to electricity.

"Solar is not cheap," Zodiaco said. "It's obvious the industry is working hard to bring down costs. Society recognizes the benefits of solar: no emissions, no trucks on the road, no pipelines."

Tampa Electric signs deal to deliver solar energy 03/09/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 7:39am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New DEP secretary says there's no conflict in political side businesses

    News

    TALLAHASSEE — When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state's top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying …

     Noah Valenstein got the job as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday May 23rd, on a unanimous vote by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. He will take the helm on June 5, with a salary of $150,000 per year. [Florida Governor's Office]
  2. New stores coming to Tyrone Square Mall, like Bath & Body Works

    Retail

    Tyrone Square Mall will welcome a half dozen new stores, like Bath & Body Works and MidiCi's The Neapolitan Pizza Company, this summer.

  3. Target Corp. reaches $18.5 million settlement with 47 states over data breach

    Retail

    Target Corp. has agreed to pay Florida $928,963 out of a newly-announced $18.5 million settlement over a huge data breach that occurred in late 2013.

    Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have reached an $18.5 million settlement with Target Corp. to resolve the states' probe into the discounter's massive pre-Christmas data breach in 2013. 
[Associated Press]
  4. Gov. Rick Scott's family history of alcohol abuse could decide 'liquor wall' bill

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott must decide Wednesday whether to let Walmart and other big-box stores sell liquor, and he says a factor in his decision is the history of alcohol abuse in his family.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott is considering a veto of a bill that would allow Walmart, Target and other big box retail stores to sell liquor. [Andres Leiva | Tampa Bay Times]
  5. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Record rainfall in Los Angeles ultimately may end Tampa Bay's drought of hosting the Super Bowl.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 


Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)