Coal, Gas, New Projects

Tampa Electric to Modernize One Big Bend Unit, Retire the Other

By Editors of Power Engineering

Tampa Electric announced it received approval to spend $853 million to switch one of its four coal units at its Big Bend Power Station to gas, but another will be shut down after 48 years of operations.

The refurbishment will install combined-cycle technology to Unit 1, bringing that unit’s capacity from 445.5 MW up to 1,090 MW. Unit 2, which also has a capacity of 445.5 MW, will be shut down in 2021.

The move, as well as the addition of 10 new solar projects, will significantly alter Tampa Electric’s energy mix from its current 67 percent natural gas, 24 percent coal and nine percent other sources. By 2023, that mix will be 75 percent natural gas, 12 percent coal, sevent percent solar and six percent other sources.

One unique aspect of the project will be the reuse of the existing cooling system in order to continue to produce warm water that attracts manatees to the power station’s discharge canal each winter.

“This project will improve the land, water and air emissions at Big Bend,” said Nancy Tower, president and chief executive officer of Tampa Electric. “Coupled with our significant increase in solar power, these changes will make Tampa Electric substantially cleaner and greener than it is today. This investment in cleaner generation will also provide significant savings to customers through lower expenses for fuel and maintenance of the existing units.”