There’s a reason why Florida is called the Sunshine State. The region has an annual average of 230 days of sunshine. The tropical climate – sunny skies and mild weather – is not just a blessing for the residents but attracts visitors from other parts of the US. The city of Tampa is one of Florida’s biggest tourist hubs. There are numerous sightseeing opportunities, craft beer, fine dining options, and outdoor activities. However, of late, Tampa has been in the news for something else entirely – something related to alternative energy. Interested to know more? Read below.
The Dawn of Solar Power
Harvesting energy from the sun has become a popular practice in recent years, and the comprehensive research conducted on this sort of alternative energy generation has fueled the rise of stronger, reliable, and sustainable products. As a result, the price of solar has dropped a whopping 64 percent over the last five years.
But what exactly does this mean for the residents?
Considering how the average number of sun hours (Source: www.solardirect.com) each day in Tampa is 5.67, going from 5.26 during the winters all the way up to 6.16 in summer, the possibility of savings incurred from using solar power is enormous. Anybody living in Tampa has an advantage over people living in many other US cities when it comes to harvesting solar energy and reducing their reliance on the grid.
Saving Up with Solar
Apart from the obvious environmental advantages, setting up solar power equipment in homes is a great way for the people of Tampa to drastically reduce their utility expenses. There’s no escaping the high electricity bills, especially during the summer months when temperatures are uncomfortably high, and residents rely on ACs to cool themselves. Investing in solar energy is an intelligent alternative. The best part is the swiftness with which solar panels affect power usage. Homeowners notice a substantial decrease in electricity expenses starting with the first month of installing solar panels. Moreover, based on how big the solar power setup is, it is also possible that homeowners can do away with their power bill entirely. Moreover, as electricity costs continue to spike in the country, the chances of saving money by opting for solar power increase, consistently increasing the gap between these two types of expenses.
Of note is the fact that while Tampa residents can expect electricity prices to surge over time, they can expect solar panel costs to fall precipitously in the same period. This is possible mainly due to the rapid growth of the solar power industry in the state, up from 404.3 MW in 2016 to 686.0 MW till date, as well as the advancements made in the solar cell efficiency and energy technology. Together, these factors have created a winning equation that is sure to please economically-savvy homeowners in Tampa who like their bills low and ACs turned up.
Additional Legislative Benefits
Besides the environmental and economic benefits, solar power assists homeowners legislation-wise. Tampa residents, in particular, can look forward to some amazing incentives and rebates from installing a solar energy system.
- The Florida State Sales Tax Exemption has made the adoption of solar power an easier choice for Tampa residents. As per this law, solar energy products and systems are exempt from any sales and use taxes (Source: floridarevenue.com).
- Net metering services offered by Tampa Electric have proven exceptionally useful in allowing customers to tap into their grid for a constant supply of energy (Source: seia.org). Another nifty bonus is that any solar power that goes unused, feeding it back into the grid gets a homeowner’s account credited by the utility company for the energy supplied to the grid.
Other benefits provided by Tampa Electric include commercial energy efficiency rebate programs, solar rebate programs, and residential energy efficiency rebate programs (Source).
- Residential Property Tax Exemptions have excluded all solar installations from property taxes for Florida residents. (Source: gov)
Other legislative benefits are coming soon as the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) works with the Florida Legislature to make solar an attractive choice. For example, Senate Bill 90 passed unanimously a couple of months ago (Source: capitalsoup.com). This means land values that are drawn from a “renewable energy source device” would no longer be used in the calculations of tax bills. This exemption would be valid for 20 years on renewable energy and solar devices.
Role of Utility Companies
Utility companies are quickly coming onboard the alternative energy bandwagon.
Tampa-based TECO Energy has spent over $50 million on solar power since 2000, and with good reason – as the price of solar power continues to decrease; it becomes a lot more affordable. This explains why over 1000 customers have their solar panels interconnected to the grid. The organization recently completed the Tampa Bay’s largest solar installation in Hillsborough County, generating 23-megawatts of solar power which would be enough to power almost 3,300 homes.
However, this isn’t TECO Energy’s first brush with solar projects. They had earlier erected a 2-megawatt facility over the south economy parking garage at the Tampa International Airport, powerful enough to provide electricity to 250 homes. The second one was a 1.8-megawatt solar facility at Winter Haven Legoland, providing both power and shade.
Tampa Tank Inc.-Florida Structural Steel (TTI-FSS) recently installed a 507-kilowatt solar PV system at an industrial plant in Hillsborough County, one of the biggest in the state. Now the company can use solar energy to meet 60 percent of its on-site energy requirements. The installation, which is capable of generating power for more than 40 years, is likely to benefit the community as well.
Florida Power and Light Co.
The company has increased the number of new universal solar power plants in development from four to eight. This move will add over 2.5 million solar panels by 2018, saving millions in power costs.
One thing becomes certain from all this – Tampa residents are waking up to the possibility of alternative energy. The situation still needs a lot of work, but given how people are taking to the streets in support of climate change (Source: wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu) and the tremendous economic benefits they receive, the usage of solar and other forms of alternative energy is only going to trend upwards in the near future.