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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 21:23 EDT

Tampa Electric Completes Second Phase of a $330 Million Environmental Improvement Project

July 7, 2008

Tampa Electric today announced that phase two of the installation of Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) equipment at the company’s Big Bend Power Station is complete. Big Bend Power Station’s unit three was the second to receive the new equipment, which is designed to further reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions at the plant.

The $330 million dollar emission control project, which will make the Big Bend Power Station one of the cleanest coal-fired power stations in the nation, is scheduled to be completed in two additional phases: unit two by May 1, 2009; and unit one by May 1, 2010. When completed in 2010, the project will reduce NOx emissions at Big Bend by approximately 90 percent from 1998 levels.

“Our completion of this second unit marks the halfway point in the SCR project, which is the final component of our 10-year environmental improvement plan,” said President Chuck Black. “I’m proud of our team’s work to put this technology to use to benefit our customers and the environment, on time and on budget.”

The massive project was particularly complex in that it had to be installed while Big Bend continued to operate. Black said he is particularly proud of the SCR project team’s outstanding safety record, with zero lost-time accidents in over 1.8 million man-hours worked to date.

SCR in a coal-fired power plant works much like an automobile’s catalytic converter, which reduces emissions produced by the car’s internal combustion engine. Prior to exiting the car’s tailpipe, exhaust gasses pass through the catalytic converter, where a chemical reaction takes place and the unburned hydrocarbons are eliminated. At a power plant, NOx emissions pass through the SCR catalyst and react with ammonia, converting it into elemental nitrogen and water.

The SCR project is part of a 10-year, $1.2 billion Tampa Electric program which was the centerpiece of its agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency and Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection to dramatically reduce overall emissions from its power plants. As part of the environmental improvement program, the company also repowered the nearly 50-year-old coal-burning Gannon Power Station to natural gas, creating the H.L. Culbreath Bayside Power Station.

Tampa Electric is an industry pioneer in environmentally responsible power generation and is well on the way to making dramatic emissions reductions while others in the industry remain in the planning stages. In Florida, of the 25 conventional coal-fired units in the state, only seven are expected to have state-of-the-art controls for SO2 and NOx by 2010; four of the seven belong to the Big Bend Power Station.

Tampa Electric’s commitment to the environment also includes encouraging its customers to participate in the company’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

Tampa Electric began its conservation program initiatives in the late 1970s, prior to any federal or state energy conservation requirements. The company continues to promote energy efficiency to its customers through new programs, such as the innovative Energy Planner program. Tampa Electric is one of only two electric utilities in the southeast to offer this state-of-the-art program which allows participating customers to make energy consumption decisions based on time-of-day and seasonal energy prices by using a company-provided programmable thermostat to control their central heating and cooling system, electric water heater and/or pool pump.

In October 2007, the company received permission from the Florida Public Service Commission to expand its existing portfolio of energy efficiency programs by modifying nine programs and adding 13 new programs. From 1981 through 2007, Tampa Electric’s energy-efficiency programs have offset the need to generate enough electricity to serve 575,000 average size homes for one year.

Almost 400,000 customers have participated in Tampa Electric’s energy efficiency programs to date, which has resulted in the company paying energy conservation incentives to approximately 350,000 customers.

Tampa Electric is also a leader in renewable energy programs which allow residential and business customers to buy a portion of their energy requirements from in-state renewable resources. The company’s Renewable Energy program invests in renewable sources like solar energy and biomass, such as sugar cane waste material, to offset the use of coal to generate electricity.

Through April 2008, over 3,100 customers have subscribed to 4,260 blocks (a block of 200 kWh costs $5 per month). From January through April 2008, there has been a 27 percent participation increase, 2007 saw a customer participation increase of 66 percent.

In 1999, the company installed an 18,000-watt solar panel at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. Additional installations include a 4,000-watt solar panel at Walker Middle School in Odessa, a 7,000-watt solar panel at Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach and a 10,500-watt solar panel at Middleton High School in Tampa. The energy generated by these arrays serves Tampa Electric’s renewable generation resources, reducing the need for energy from non-renewable sources.

Tampa Electric Company is the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy, Inc. (NYSE:TE), an energy-related holding company with regulated utility operations in Florida including both Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas System. Other subsidiaries include TECO Coal, which owns and operates coal production facilities in Kentucky and Virginia, and TECO Guatemala, which is engaged in electric power generation and distribution and energy-related businesses in Guatemala.