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. The solar-plus-energy 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. BlockEnergy microgrid also provides TECO with a cost-effective way to offer a distributed clean energy resource to its Southshore Bay customers and to quickly advance its vision to achieve a net-zero carbon future.
The Southshore Bay residential community, developed in partnership with home builder Lennar Homes and land developer Metro Development Group, is comprised of 37 new homes all equipped with fully integrated, shared 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 without having to hire a solar contractor to install a rooftop PV system, go through the permitting and interconnection process, and then operate 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 innovative portfolio standards, while testing an and practical approach to energy surety and resiliency.”