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Largest Solar Project in Tampa Bay Area Planned

Solar panels in place at the manatee viewing area at Tampa Electric's Big Bend power plant
Solar panels in place at the manatee viewing area at Tampa Electric's Big Bend power plant

Tampa Electric announced Tuesday the utility will build the largest solar project in the Tampa Bay area.

It is planned to be 25 megawatts, with the capacity to power more than 3,500 homes. It would include more than 70,000 solar panels on 125 acres of company-owned land at the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach.

Company officials say it should be completed in 2016.

“Tampa Electric has a long history of pursuing and supporting solar power,” Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas, said in a prepared statement. “With this project, we will have invested more than $50 million in solar since 2000.We’re pleased to be able to demonstrate our commitment to providing our customers with more renewable energy by taking advantage of declining solar system prices and the land we own at Big Bend.

“This large-scale facility will benefit our more than 700,000 customers and showcase how a diversified mix of energy resources delivers affordable and reliable energy to meet Florida’s electricity needs now and in the future,” he said.

The Big Bend site includes Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center , which has hosted more than 4.3 million visitors since it opened in 1986.

The Big Bend installation is the second large-scale solar project being built by Tampa Electric. The first, a 2-megawatt facility at Tampa International Airport, is under construction on the top floor of the airport’s south economy parking garage. Scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, it will be able to produce enough electricity to power up to 250 homes, or roughly the equivalent of the airport’s new 1.4-mile automated people mover.

Credit Tampa Electric Co.

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