Sept. 30, 2014 (TAMPA) — Tampa International Airport and Tampa Electric Co. today announced an agreement to install a canopy of solar panels on the top floor of the airport’s south Economy Parking Garage.
At 2 megawatts (MW), it will be Tampa Electric’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) installation and its first foray into utility-scale solar power. The solar panels will produce enough electricity to power up to 250 homes.
Tampa Electric will own the PV array, and the electricity it produces will go to the grid, to benefit all 700,000 Tampa Electric customers, including the airport. Construction is scheduled to begin in a few months and is expected to be complete by the end of 2015.
“This is the next big step in Tampa Electric’s renewable portfolio,” said Gordon Gillette, president of Tampa Electric. “We are proud to be a partner with the airport and others in the community through a variety of solar projects and rebates, and we believe renewable energy has an important role in our energy future.”
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board on Thursday will vote on a 25-year initial lease agreement with Tampa Electric Co. The utility will pay the Authority $15,000 a year to lease the space. The canopy design creates covered parking and ensures no parking spots are eliminated.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Tampa Electric on this exciting project,” said Joe Lopano, CEO of Tampa International Airport. “The triple bottom line that considers people, the planet and prosperity is important to this airport and the entire aviation industry.”
In 2012, the airport received a $607,500 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to develop a Sustainable Management Plan. The recently completed plan outlines 33 potential sustainability initiatives and design criteria as the airport moves forward with a major expansion that includes a 1.3-mile Automated People Mover connecting a new rental car center to the main terminal. The $943 million program will remove 2.7 million cars from airport roadways each year. That will result in an annual reduction in carbon emissions of 1,617 tons, or the carbon removed from the atmosphere by 1,202 acres of forest.
The airport also plans to double its annual use of City of Tampa reclaimed water from 70 million gallons to 122 million gallons by using reclaimed water in its cooling towers. An agreement with the city to move that project forward also goes to the board on Thursday.
Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, is part of the TECO Energy family of companies. Tampa Electric serves more than 700,000 customers in West Central Florida. TECO Energy Inc. (NYSE: TE) is an energy-related holding company with regulated electric and gas utilities in Florida and New Mexico, including Tampa Electric, Peoples Gas System and New Mexico Gas Co. Other TECO Energy subsidiaries include TECO Coal, which owns and operates coal-production facilities in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.