Tampa Electric achieved commercial operation on its tenth utility-scale solar project, the 60 MW Durrance Solar project, located in Polk County, Florida.
By bringing that project live earlier this month, Tampa Electric now has enough solar capacity to power 100,000 homes, a benchmark that the utility had previously set as a procurement goal. Now, the utility has set its sights on its next goal: having enough solar capacity on-line by 2023 to power 200,000 homes.
Alongside doubling its solar reach in just two years, the utility is also looking to retire a coal unit, Big Bend Unit 3, in 2023, nearly two decades before the unit’s scheduled retirement. The move is seen as a money saving one as well as an environmentally-conscious decision, as continuing the unit’s operation past 2023 would require significant capital investments for improvements, a financial burden the utility has deemed unfair to ratepayers.
Big Bend 3 also marks the second Big Bend unit that is retiring. In November, Unit 2 will retire as part of the $850 million Big Bend Modernization project, an undertaking that will renovate the remaining Big Bend units to include combined-cycle natural gas units, capable of producing 1,090 MW of electricity.
Back on the solar side of things, the work to get to 200,000 is under way. Tampa Electric has begun construction on the next wave of 600 MW of solar, all of which will reach commercial operation by the end of 2023. Four projects with a combined capacity of 225 MW are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021. When the entire 600 MW tranche is complete, Tampa Electric will have enough solar energy to reach its 200,000-homes goal.
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