1. Business

Sierra Club files to stop Tampa Electric from converting to gas

Environmental advocacy group Sierra Club is asking the state to prevent Tampa Electric Co. from converting one of its its Big Bend Power Station units to natural gas. Pictured is Big Bend in 2017. [LUIS SANTANA | Times, 2017]
Published Oct. 3, 2018

"Our communities have suffered enough from utility companies putting their desire to make a buck over the safety of our communities," said Gonzalo Valdes, organizer for the Sierra Club's "Beyond Coal" campaign in the state. "Adding fracked gas to Big Bend will continue to endanger our air, water and communities by locking us into at least another 30 years of destructive, polluting, climate-disrupting greenhouse gases."

Among the issues cited by the Sierra Club were property damage, elevated insurance premiums, emotional distress and illness.

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

Tampa Electric spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said the utility is aware of the filing and declined to comment further.

Tampa Electric announced in May that it was converting coal-fired Unit 1 to natural gas by 2021 and plans to spend nearly $853 million to convert it. When it is complete, the unit will be able to produce 1,090 megawatts. Big Bend has two other units that run on coal and have natural gas capabilities.

A hearing for the certification process for the plant's renovation is scheduled for January 2019.

The utility is also shutting down the coal-fired Unit 2 at the power station by 2021. Five workers died after performing dangerous maintenance on Unit 2 in June 2017.

Tampa Electric has moved away from energy sources such as coal in recent years, driven especially by recent CEO Nancy Tower, who has a focus on renewable sources. It committed to building 600 megawatts of solar energy — enough to power 100,000 homes — by 2021.

MORE: Get more business news here

Contact Malena Carollo at or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.


  1. Duke Energy Co. workers are competing in a line worker competition in Kansas this week. | [Courtesy of Duke Energy Florida] Duke Energy Florida
    Four Duke Energy Florida competitors are from Tampa Bay, as well as two coaches.
  2. Alexandra Toigo, 32 and Sabrina Pourghassem, 23, pose for a photo at Hofbrauhaus St. Petersburg holding their signature beer mugs during Oktoberfest 2018. "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The beer hall’s property owners filed a lawsuit saying the restaurant missed its rent starting in August.
  3. Port Tampa Bay on Tuesday agreed to sell a half-acre it owns near the Florida Aquarium for $4.7 million to Streams Capital of Tampa, which is looking at building a 33-story condominium and hotel tower. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times
    The buyer, Streams Capital of Tampa, is looking at building a 33-story tower with a hotel, condominiums and retail.
  4. [RON BORRESEN  |  Times].
    The deadline is Friday to submit your employer’s name for consideration.
  5. The developers of The Heights say they have reached an agreement with Marriott International to include a 153-room Marriott Moxy Hotel on the first seven floors of a 25-story apartment tower planned on the block two blocks east of the Armature Works. [Courtesy of Tampa Heights] The Heights District
    Plans call for a 153-room hotel that will occupy the first seven floors within a new, mixed-use, 25-story tower.
  6. Judge Caryl E. Delano, chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the middle district of Florida Caryl E. Delano
    Caryl E. Delano will serve four years as chief judge of one of the nation’s busiest bankruptcy courts.
  7. A page from the Medicare Handbook focuses on Medicare Advantage plans, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. Medicare's open enrollment period for 2020 begins Oct. 15 and lasts through Dec. 7. PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS  |  AP
    New benefits are giving an extra boost to Medicare Advantage, the already popular alternative to traditional Medicare.
  8. A citrus grove in eastern Hillsborough County. [Times (2017)]
    The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is predicting a 3.3 percent increase for the struggling industry.
  9. Gas prices may go up as much as 5 cents this week, AAA, The Auto Club Group, said. Pictured is a man filling up at a gas station in St. Petersburg in 2017. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times  (2017)] SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Gas dropped 10 cents on average in Tampa Bay last week and 6 cents on average in Florida.
  10. Artist Danny Acosta completes re-lettering  of the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S.A. marker in Key West after much of the paint was stripped off in Hurricane Irma in 2017. [Florida Keys News Bureau via the Associated Press]
    Less than 10 percent of U.S. counties are "vacation home'' counties.