TAMPA — Tampa Electric Co. announced plans on Wednesday to double its solar capacity over the next three years.
The utility said it plans to build an additional 600 megawatts of solar power by 2023, enough to power 100,000 homes. The plans come on the heels on the utility’s current effort to complete 665 megawatts of solar power by 2021.
“This is all part of our strategy to make Tampa Electric cleaner and greener,” said Cherie Jacobs, spokeswoman for Tampa Electric. “Our customers are asking for more renewable energy. They want a cleaner energy future for themselves and their kids.”
Regulators will need to review and rule on the plan before Tampa Electric can charge customers for it, and there is currently no date set for that. If it is approved, Tampa Electric estimates that it will cost $800 million, amounting to an extra $3 on customers’ monthly bills.
Tampa Electric currently has 520 megawatts of solar power in service and is scheduled to complete another 145 megawatts by 2021. If the newly-announced projects are approved by state regulators and completed, 14 percent of the utility’s energy would be generated from solar power. About 84 percent will come from natural gas.
The newly-announced solar project will span several locations around Tampa Bay, Jacobs said. They include 1,200 acres that straddles Hillsborough and Polk counties, a Pasco County property near Dade City and a property in Polk County.
“Over the life of these solar plants, this expansion will be cheaper for customers than if we kept our fleet (as is),” Jacobs said.
That’s because solar power does not come with a fuel charge like natural gas does.