Utility Tampa Electric Co. (TECO) has purchased, installed and received regulatory approval for Emera Technologies’ BlockEnergy microgrid platform for use in a pilot program serving Southshore Bay residential development, a community south of Tampa, Fla. TECO fully owns and operates the solar-plus-energy microgrid. This microgrid provides greater operability, security, and grid resilience to combat extreme weather and other events that could impact electric utility grid downtime. TECO also has the option to use BlockEnergy to provide a distributed source of clean energy to its Southshore Bay customers. This will allow it to rapidly move towards its goal to become a net zero carbon future.
The Southshore Bay residential neighborhood was created in partnership with Lennar Homes, a home builder, and Metro Development Group. It includes 37 new homes, all with integrated rooftop solar PV systems. Each home is equipped with a BlockBox, a battery storage and control system (or power electronic control system), which connects to the neighborhood distribution networks, where it shares and communicates energy as required within the community. Near the entrance to Southshore Bay is a central energy park that contains supplemental batteries and optional additional generation. It also connects to the electric utility grid.
This utility-owned business model allows homeowners to continue paying the same metered rate they would normally pay, without any additional grid charges or fees. BlockEnergy allows homeowners to get up to 80% solar energy without having to hire a contractor. They can install a rooftop PV system on their roof, conduct the permitting and interconnection process, then manage and maintain the system.
“We are continually striving to find new ways of bringing smarter, cleaner and more reliable energy to our customers,” says Dave Pickles, vice president 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. It’s one that can directly benefit our customers and help us to realize our net-zero vision.”
“We developed our BlockEnergy utility-owned business model with the charter to find a win-win solution for utilities, homeowners and regulators to offer clean, reliable energy to homeowners,” states Rob Bennett, CEO of Emera Technologies. “We are excited TECO is leading the way by adopting BlockEnergy for Southshore Bay and providing a model residential community that other utilities can learn from, follow suit, and continue to make the necessary changes we need for a cleaner, more grid-resilient future.”
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. 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.
“We are looking at sustaining infrastructure and ensuring mission readiness in a way that is safe, secure, reliable, and cost-effective,” commens Colonel David Miller, the former commander of Kirtland Air Force Base. “The Emera project is right in line with what we are trying to do. This also positions us as a leader in helping the state of New Mexico meet 2045 renewable portfolio standards, while testing an innovative and practical approach to energy surety and resiliency.”