Tampa Electric launches neighborhood solar microgrid pilot program

Emera Technologies announced that utility Tampa Electric Company (TECO) has successfully purchased, installed and received regulatory approval for its BlockEnergy microgrid platform for use in a pilot program serving Southshore Bay residential development, a community south of Tampa, Florida. The BlockEnergy solar + storage microgrid, fully owned and operated by TECO, enables increased operability, security and grid resilience to mitigate extreme weather and other events that can impact electric utility grid uptime.

The Southshore Bay residential community, developed in partnership with Lennar Homes and Metro Development Group, is comprised of 37 new homes all equipped with rooftop solar PV systems. Each home has a battery storage and power electronic control system, or BlockBox, which connects to the neighborhood distribution network, where it communicates and shares energy as needed within the community. A central energy park is located near the entrance of Southshore Bay, containing supplemental batteries, optional additional generation for use during outages, and a connection to the electric utility power grid.

With this utility-owned business model, homeowners still pay for electricity at the same metered rate as they normally would, with no extra grid charges or other fees. By being part of the BlockEnergy network, up to 80% of their home energy comes from the sun.

“We are continually striving to find new ways of bringing smarter, cleaner, and more reliable energy to our customers,” said Dave Pickles, VP of electric delivery of Tampa Electric. “The BlockEnergy microgrid pilot project is a promising solution that brings a new layer of control, operability and flexibility.”

After two years of pilot testing and optimizing the platform at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico (in collaboration with Sandia Laboratories), BlockEnergy received approval from the Florida Public Service Commission for Southshore Bay as a four-year pilot project. It’s a significant milestone pointing to the platform’s commercial readiness for widespread adoption in Florida and other US regulated utility environments. The Tampa Electric news also comes on the heels of Emera Technologies’ recent UL 9450 fire and safety certification for the energy storage control system integrated with the BlockEnergy platform.

News item from Emera Technologies

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