The City of Tampa and Tampa Electric Company (TECO) today jointly announced a partnership to deploy a major rooftop solar array at the Tampa Convention Center (TCC). The renewable energy investment in Tampa’s downtown urban core is expected to be the largest rooftop solar project in Hillsborough County.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor welcomed Tampa Electric President and Chief Executive Officer Archie Collins to the roof of Tampa Convention Center on Monday where the company also outlined a vision to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. To assist with TECO’s carbon neutrality vision, TECO is also making new investments in the University of South Florida (USF) for clean energy research.
“There is no more important partner than TECO in the City of Tampa’s commitment to a greener, more sustainable community. Today, the City of Tampa, TECO, and the University of South Florida are taking a big step on the path to cleaner energy,” said Tampa Mayor Castor. “We plan to continue finding unique partnership opportunities and invest city resources to advance in clean energy technology and climate-ready infrastructure.”
Tampa Electric President and CEO Collins said the vision of net-zero carbon emissions from its power plant by 2050 reflects the utility’s longstanding commitment to protecting the environment.
“Achieving this vision will require partnership – with our customers, the electric industry and stakeholders – to improve the planet for our children, and their children. We have taken a thoughtful approach, and we commit to keep affordability and reliability at the forefront of very decision along this path,” Collins said.
Under the City of Tampa – TECO partnership, TECO is expected to invest in a rooftop solar energy system at the Tampa Convention Center. The renewable energy will feed into the electric grid, and TECO will offer TECO’s Sun To Go program to conference attendees. Sun To Go is a renewable energy solar program that provides for the purchase of renewable energy blocks in 200 kWh increments.
An educational kiosk will be constructed at the Convention Center explaining the project and benefits of solar energy.
“In working with TECO to use about 250,000 square feet of prime downtown rooftop, the City of Tampa is facilitating up to 2 MW of renewable energy to Tampa’s grid,” said Una Garvey, Director of Tampa Convention Center Operations. “We are excited to be able to offer Sun To Go to our guests and for them to know their renewable energy is produced right here on site.”
The Convention Center investment and partnership comes on the heels of the Tampa City Council approving over $1M to install net-metered solar panels on the new Hanna Avenue municipal office building in East Tampa. Both the Convention Center and Hanna Avenue projects are part of Mayor’s Castor’s vision to firmly establish sustainability and resilience as key tenants of the Transforming Tampa’s Tomorrow plan.
TECO’s additional investment in USF is noteworthy as both TECO and the City of Tampa are crafting plans to transition to carbon neutrality.
“We know that getting to 80 percent renewable energy and carbon neutrality is feasible and cost- effective,” said Whit Remer, City of Tampa Sustainability & Resilience Officer. “Closing the gap on the last 20 percent of emissions is where the real work lies. With the support of TECO and USF, we can rely on research and university partners to help develop new technologies to reach our shared goal of cleaner energy and carbon neutrality.”
The solar partnership “will further drive the economic engine of our City by aligning our largest institutions with the Mayor’s sustainability vision,” said Carole Post, Tampa’s administrator for development and economic opportunity, on this venture. “We look forward to having the convention center be a pivotal part of this path forward.”