Regulators OK Tampa Electric’s Third Round Of Solar Projects

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The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved cost recovery for the third phase of Tampa Electric Co.’s (TECO) solar plans, covering two projects that total 150 MW.

“TECO’s expanded use of solar power continues to improve its fuel diversity and sustainability, which is good for the economy, as well as the environment,” says Art Graham, PSC chairman. “Today’s approval of TECO’s third solar project phase brings the utility’s total to 550 MW of solar generation, which lowers fuel costs.”

Located in Hillsborough County, the two new solar projects include Wimauma Solar (74.8 MW) and Little Manatee River Solar (74.5 MW). Both projects are expected to be in service by January 2020.

The additional revenue requirement for the two projects is $26.5 million, which is below the cap approved in TECO’s 2017 rate settlement agreement. This translates to a $1.00 monthly bill increase, beginning in January 2020, for a residential customer using 1,000 kWh. TECO’s $193 million in estimated fuel savings from the solar projects and its PSC-approved tax reform savings will partially offset that increase.

TECO’s first-phase solar projects – Payne Creek and Balm, totaling 145 MW – were approved by the PSC in May 2018. TECO’s second-phase solar projects – Lithia, Grange Hall, Peace Creek, Bonnie Mine and Lake Hancock, totaling 260 MW – were approved in October 2018. The utility’s PSC-approved 2017 settlement agreement froze its base rates until Jan. 1, 2022, but allowed the company to recover the costs of added solar generation.

“This solar expansion is a win for our customers and a win for the environment,” comments Nancy Tower, president and CEO of the Tampa-based utility. “This is safe, renewable energy that benefits all Tampa Electric customers today and for future generations.”

By 2021, TECO will have invested $850 million to add 6 million solar panels in 10 new projects. When the projects are complete, about 7% of the utility’s energy generation will come from the sun.

TECO serves more than 750,000 customers in Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas and Pasco counties. The company is a subsisiary of Nova Scotia-based Emera Inc.

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