TECO, USF team up on green project
By RUSSELL RAY
Tampa Electric Co. and the University of South Florida unveiled plans Monday to build a solar array and a renewable energy learning center at Lowry Park Zoo.
The 15-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system will generate 15 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power the zoo’s Treetop Skyfari sky ride. All of the solar power, though, will be placed on the grid for others to use.
Solar panels will be placed at the elephant exhibit.
TECO officials said the project will help the utility determine the technical, economic and environmental effects of using smart grid technology.
"What we’re going to learn is how to integrate small distributed generation back into our distribution grid and make it work for the company and for the customers," said Tampa Electric President Chuck Black.
A smart grid uses a collection of high-tech gadgets to help utilities and consumers manage energy use more efficiently.
This represents "an important step toward the technologically advanced, clean energy future we envision for Florida and the United States," Black said.
The renewable energy center will be in the zoo’s Safari Africa plaza and will provide information about a variety of renewable energy sources. It was designed by a group of architecture students at USF.
"This project will provide training opportunities for a new high-tech work force," said USF President Judy Genshaft.
The $577,000 project is being funded by Tampa Electric and a $150,000 grant from the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, established in 1996 by the Florida Legislature to attract and retain high-tech industries.
The solar array and center will be completed in August.