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Tampa’s Convention Center goes solar as utility vows carbon neutrality

The city of Tampa and Tampa Electric propose the largest solar panel array in Hillsborough County to help reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, seen at an event in September,  said Monday that her administration has taken bold steps on sustainability and resiliency. “It is our road map,” she said of the 58 goals in her resiliency plan. “We’re tracking them each and every day.”
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, seen at an event in September, said Monday that her administration has taken bold steps on sustainability and resiliency. “It is our road map,” she said of the 58 goals in her resiliency plan. “We’re tracking them each and every day.” [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Nov. 8, 2021|Updated Nov. 8, 2021

TAMPA — Standing on the windswept roof of the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa Electric Co. President and CEO Archie Collins announced his company’s plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

To do that, he said, you need partners. In this case, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor’s longstanding desire to put solar panels on the city-owned facility, which is currently being renovated, lined up with the goals of those of Tampa Electric, the sole power provider to Tampa residents.

“Why aren’t we taking advantage of that?” Castor said she and her team wondered about the huge expanse of convention center roof while they crafted the city’s 58-point Resilient Tampa initiative, which debuted in May.

Related: Castor unveils roadmap for Tampa's sustainable future

The solar panel project will cover 250,000 square feet of the convention center’s roof, generating up to 2 megawatts of renewable energy to Tampa’s grid, said Una Garvey, director of Tampa Convention Center Operations, in a city news release.

That amount of power should keep the lights on at 800 to 1,800 homes a year. It would be the largest solar panel array in Hillsborough County, according to the release.

Tampa Electric also will partner with the University of South Florida to provide research and technical expertise in its drive to lower its carbon emissions.

Interim President Rhea Law said the university has experts in global sustainability, engineering and business that are “willing and anxious to be part of this initiative.”

“We’ve got to work fast and we will,” Law said.

Last week, the Castor administration announced plans to put solar panels on the roof of a “City Center” municipal services center on Hanna Avenue in East Tampa. The City Council approved the $108 million project unanimously, although council member John Dingfelder asked Castor officials to report back on whether more panels can be installed at the site.

Related: City Center to rise in East Tampa

Castor said Monday that her administration has taken bold steps on sustainability and resiliency, pointing toward her resiliency plan.

“It is our road map,” she said of the 58 goals. “We’re tracking them each and every day.”

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