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A history of environmental innovation

TECO Energy is committed to innovative solutions for improving the environmental sustainability of our operations, and we are seeing tangible benefits of our actions.

Our environmental stewardship includes the support and adoption of new technologies, recycle and reuse programs, and habitat restoration. Our efforts include:

  • Building and operating the award-winning Polk Power Station Regional Reclaimed Water Project – winner in 2015 of the Edison Electric Institute's Edison Award, the highest honor in the electric industry – will reduce groundwater withdrawals while removing a significant source of nitrogen discharge to Tampa Bay while enabling the station to expand generating capacity.
  • Transforming our fleet by shutting down the coal-fired Gannon Power Station and building the natural-gas-fired Bayside Power Station – significantly reducing air emissions including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, mercury and carbon dioxide.
  • Reducing sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions further by optimizing existing control technologies on all four coal-fired units at our Big Bend Power Station.
  • Installing selective catalytic reduction technology to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions at Big Bend.
  • Replacing the oil-fired startup systems at Big Bend and Polk Power Station with cleaner and less carbon-intensive natural gas systems, reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Leading the industry in reuse of coal-combustion byproducts, including fly ash for cement and gypsum for wallboard.
  • Maximizing recycle water to reduce overall water use.
  • Restoring and utilizing land in innovative ways.

We innovate. TECO Energy's strategic initiatives include expanding the use of alternative fuel vehicles. Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas are championing sustainable transportation and helping to make it a reality in the communities we serve. Tampa Electric also has partnered with the University of South Florida and other stakeholders to evaluate the feasibility of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) – another area of innovative research linked to limiting greenhouse gas emissions – in Florida. CCS is the process of storing carbon dioxide in the deep saline formations within the earth. This would help ensure a full suite of power generating options remain viable for our customers.

We set the pace. As early as 1984, Tampa Electric opened its plant siting process to a community group to help determine the location of what is now the company's Polk Power Station. On its own accord, the company also created a sanctuary for manatees adjacent to its Big Bend Power Station; the Manatee Viewing Center educates as many as 300,000 visitors each year. Additionally, in a 1996 partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, Tampa Electric became the first utility in the nation to commercialize integrated coal gasification technology at Polk Power Station – a plant recognized as the world leader in generating electricity from clean-coal technology. And, in 2012, the company announced a partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and The Florida Aquarium to create an innovative technology and conservation park adjacent to the Manatee Viewing Center.

We lead. Tampa Electric launched a 10-year, $1.2 billion investment in environmental improvement that reached its goals in 2010. At that time, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner said, "We hope that other utilities follow their example and bring significantly improved air quality to many other areas across America."

We are positioned for the future. We continue to watch and evaluate a number of environmental regulatory issues that could affect our business. While the outcome of each is uncertain, we have already accomplished what others only have considered. We have proven that it is possible to balance the need to be environmentally responsible with the necessity to provide our customers affordable electricity.

Polk Power Station celebrates 16 years of innovation and excellence

Polk Polk Power Station sits on 4,300 acres in Polk County, a site selected with extensive community input.

A task force of local business, education and environmental leaders earmarked Tampa Electric's Polk Power Station for innovation even before its groundbreaking.

The plant began commercial operation in 1996, launching a new chapter in Tampa Electric's history. Since then, the first-of-its-kind, 260-megawatt integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) PDF Icon facility has earned acclaim as one of the nation's cleanest, most efficient and most economical coal power generation units. Polk Power Station's more than 5,000 visitors since Tampa Electric is expanding the generating capacity at the site by 460 megawatts, or enough electricity to power more than 100,000 homes. The expansion will convert the four existing simple-cycle, natural gas-fired units to a more efficient combined-cycle unit by January 2017. The Polk conversion will allow the units to capture the waste heat from the existing combustion turbines and increase the output of the gas-fired units by 70 percent without the need to purchase additional land. The project also will improve transmission reliability and reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide.

Section Highlights
  • Tampa Electric has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent compared to 1998 levels. See how we've rolled back our carbon emission to our 1990 levels.

  • Tampa Electric is planning an innovative technology and park. Learn more about the public-private partnership between Tampa Electric, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and The Florida Aquarium to bring a unique opportunity for sustainability research and education to Tampa Bay at the Florida Conservation and Technology Center.

  • Since 1998, Tampa Electric has reduced annual sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions from its facilities by approximately 94 percent, 91 percent and 87 percent, respectively. Learn about how we accomplished these reductions.

  • We've partnered with our local communities to develop mutually beneficial solutions to maximize the beneficial re-use of reclaimed water and to reduce our dependency on groundwater. Learn more about the Polk Power Station Regional Reclaimed Water Project.

  • For three decades, our Manatee Viewing Center has educated visitors, protected wildlife habitats and practiced environmental stewardship. Watch how our efforts have translated into a safe haven for manatees and other wildlife.

  • More than 96 percent of combustion byproducts generated in 2011 were marketed to customers for beneficial use. Learn more about our efforts to minimize waste and maximize our recycling efforts.
Partnering for Seagrass Recovery


Since 2004, Tampa Electric has worked diligently to reduce (NOx) emissions, which has improved air quality and enhanced water clarity in Tampa Bay. Through a partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, TECO Energy's investments to reduce NOx emissions and the company's support of reduced nitrogen discharges to the bay have fostered sea grass recovery, due to the improved water clarity. In fact, Tampa Bay now supports 34,642 acres of sea grasses – more than at any time measured since the 1950's.