Tampa Electric, USF Partner with Lowry Park Zoo on New Renewable Energy Project

TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 4, 2008) – Tampa Electric, the University of South Florida's Power Center for Utility Explorations (PCUE) and Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo will partner on a project to develop, design and test a renewable solar energy system at the zoo to be funded in part by a grant from the Florida High Tech Corridor.

The 15-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) project can generate enough clean energy to power the zoo's Skyfari sky ride and will be connected to the electric grid through the zoo's main power system. The project, which includes solar panels and an inverter, as well as educational displays that will be installed at the sky ride entrance, will cost approximately $575,000.

The joint project not only will install solar panels at the zoo, but will also examine ways to strengthen the electric grid to handle the reverse flow of electricity as a result of what could be a significant increase in renewable generation from larger loads or from a number of smaller systems. These additional loads from individual or business renewable energy sources have the potential to affect the reliability of electric service for neighboring customers.

"Our project seeks to deliver electric power that is not only reliable, but also compatible with a natural environment, in harmony with people and animals," said Alex Domijan, professor in the USF College of Engineering and director of the PCUE. "Although the electricity grid has been designed for a one-way transfer of power from central station generators to consumers, with the distributed generation system being developed at the zoo using on-site renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaics, the grid's controls can be adapted for reverse power flows." For more information about PCUE visit http://pcue.eng.usf.edu.

The interactive demonstration project will allow more than one million annual zoo visitors to find out more about solar power and encourage its use. There has been a significant increase in customers interested in generating their own power from renewable resources. In 2008, Tampa Electric customers added more than 110 kilowatts of solar energy to their homes and businesses.

"All of the zoo's exhibits and programs are designed to engage and inspire visitors to treasure the natural world and act wisely on its behalf," said Lex Salisbury, president and CEO of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. "This partnership offers a great opportunity for the zoo to lead by example. By developing and testing a renewable solar energy system, we hope to reduce the impact on the environment by conserving conventional power."

This project will allow Tampa Electric and the PCUE to train a new high-tech work force in power engineering, the only profession dealing comprehensively with energy issues. Many of the major climate change issues being discussed today may fit within the project framework and these issues will be showcased at the zoo for all to experience.

"Tampa Electric is pleased to partner with USF and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo to study and encourage the use of solar power in our communities," said Chuck Black, Tampa Electric president. "One of our company's strategic goals is to engage the community while dramatically improving Tampa Electric's environmental profile. This is consistent with Governor Crist's challenge to develop and sustain renewable energy resources in Florida."

 About Tampa Electric

Tampa Electric Company is the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy, Inc. (NYSE: TE), an energy-related holding company with regulated utility operations in Florida including both Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas System. Other subsidiaries include TECO Coal, which owns and operates coal production facilities in Kentucky and Virginia, and TECO Guatemala, which is engaged in electric power generation and distribution and energy-related businesses in Guatemala.

About Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

Recognized as the #1 zoo in the U.S. by Child magazine, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is a 60-acre zoological garden with 2,200 animals in natural habitats, water play areas, rides and educational shows. The zoo is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in education, recreation, conservation and research. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2008, the zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas days) with extended hours on select nights during the summer. Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is also the site of the TECO Energy Manatee Amphitheater. The zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48). Parking is free. Visit LowryParkZoo.com or call (813) 935-8552 for more information.

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida's top three research universities. USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland.

– USF –