(Feb. 11, 2016) On Feb. 11, Tampa International Airport and Tampa Electric unveiled a canopy of solar panels on the top floor of the airport’s south Economy Parking Garage. The array, which is part of an ongoing commitment to sustainability by both the electric company and the Airport, provides solar energy to Tampa Electric’s customers and shade for parking patrons.
At 2 megawatts (MW), the solar panels produce enough electricity to power up to 250 homes. It is Tampa Electric’s first foray into large-scale solar power and its largest solar photovoltaic (PV) installation to date. Tampa Electric owns the PV array, and the electricity it produces goes to the grid, to benefit all of Tampa Electric’s nearly 725,000 customers, including the Airport.
“This is a small but prominent part of the amazing things happening at this airport and we’re so proud to be a part of it,” Tampa Electric President Gordon Gillette said at the unveiling ceremony. “I can’t say enough about our wonderful partnership with Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano, Vice President of Facilities and Administration Al Illustrato and their team. Joe had a vision for solar power and we wanted to be a big part of it from the beginning.”
Tampa Electric plans to build several more large-scale solar arrays in the next few years, including a 23-MW solar project at the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach. That system will be the largest in Hillsborough County and will be able to produce enough power for almost 3,500 homes.
Lopano emphasized the Airport’s commitment to sustainability, pointing out that in addition to the solar project, Tampa International recently unveiled a dozen new electric vehicle charging stations and preferred parking spots for people driving alternative fuel vehicles. The airport also operates a fleet of 54 alternative fuel vehicles and since 2009 has saved over 315 million gallons of potable water through the use of reclaimed water.
“We are thrilled to help flip the switch on this solar array and to serve as a home for an important renewable resource that will benefit all of Tampa Bay,” Lopano said. “Tampa International Airport, through this and other initiatives, is committed to sustainability with the goal of improving our airport, our city and the entire region.”
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who sits on the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board, praised the project as an example of community partners working together making the Tampa Bay region better.
“This makes a difference and reducing our carbon footprint makes a difference,” Buckhorn said. “This is one in a series of great things happening at this airport and in this community.”