A commitment to restoring our natural resources
TECO Energy's commitment to sustainability includes creative land use and reclamation.
In 2010, Tampa Electric completed construction of selective catalytic reduction technology on all four coal-fired units at Big Bend Power Station, significantly reducing Big Bend's nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. These reductions, along with the results of shutting down coal-fired Gannon Power Station, have resulted in a 92 percent reduction in NOx emissions since 1998. NOx emissions contribute to nitrogen in waterways when they are deposited on the water surface and become food for algae blooms. Algae blooms then block sunlight from reaching plants and animals in the water, resulting in habitat loss and significant loss of sea grasses and other plant life. We have also invested in water treatment that has allowed us to reduce total nitrogen in surface water discharges to Tampa Bay by more than 50 percent.
In May 2015, we realized the success of our NOx and nitrogen reductions when Tampa Bay's sea grasses reached acreages not seen since 1956. The Tampa Bay Estuary Program credits our efforts with helping to reduce algae blooms in the bay, revitalizing sea grasses and improving Tampa Bay's health.
Critical to our success is our commitment to balancing reliable service and products with protecting the lands where we operate. We know we must meet our customers' energy needs today without compromising the health and welfare of future generations. It is that ideal that drives us to minimize our impact on the environment and to restore impacted areas.
We work with governmental and environmental entities to design our facilities to ensure sensitive areas are protected while still providing the level of service our customers have come to expect and deserve. Our surrounding areas are home to a great variety of plants and animals. We monitor and assess our activities to assure compliance with environmental standards, train to avoid environmental emergencies and or to respond to incidents quickly and responsibly.
Tampa Electric conducts a Vegetation Management program as part of its commitment to providing customers with safe and reliable electric service. As with most electric utilities, trees are among the leading causes of power outages. Trees in contact with electrical conductors can cause electrical outages, momentary interruptions, fires, personal property damage and even personal injury. Tampa Electric balances its commitment of reliable service with the health of the trees it must trim near power lines.
The National Arbor Day Foundation™ certified Tampa Electric as a Tree Line USAÂ® utility for the sixth consecutive year for its efforts to protect the health of trees the company must trim near power lines.
The Tree Line USA program is sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters. The program recognizes public and private utilities across the nation that follow practices to protect and enhance America's urban forests. To qualify for Tree Line USA status, a utility must exhibit quality tree-care practices, complete annual worker training and participate in tree planting and public education. The award recognizes that we are balancing our respect for the environment with managing our business to ensure that we provide reliable electric service.
In an effort to improve our right of way, Tampa Electric's Line Clearance Department initiated a wildflower beautification program, seeding our rights of way with a native variety of coreopsis, Florida's state wildflower. Planting wildflowers in the company's rights of way grew from an experiment on the "Willow Oak to Wheeler to Davis" project, 30 miles of construction on a 230-kilovolt transmission line stretching from western Polk County to Temple Terrace, Fla. Tampa Electric beautified a half-mile stretch, or about seven acres. Adding wildflowers saves mowing costs while making spaces that seem unremarkable more aesthetically pleasing. Our Manatee Viewing Center will showcase a wildflower "meadow" at the 50-acre facility in Apollo Beach, Fla.
When Peoples Gas installs new underground pipelines, it also minimizes impacts to sensitive habitats, such as wetlands, by using directional boring. Boring a wetland, rather than trenching, avoids disrupting the habitat.