As part of Tampa Electric’s journey toward a cleaner, smarter energy future, the company will invest $5 million in the University of South Florida to fund research, education and innovation that aims to reduce carbon and improve the environment.
This commitment will further strengthen the longstanding relationship between the two local flagships and will help to build a resilient, healthy environment for future generations. The $5 million gift will come from shareholder funds.
In its effort to explore, research and develop emerging energy technologies that reduce carbon, Tampa Electric’s investment will create an endowed fund to support the Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) in USF’s College of Engineering. It is the largest single outright gift to the college.
“This partnership is a key pillar in our vision to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Archie Collins, president and chief executive officer of Tampa Electric. “We have made great progress: Carbon emissions today are half what they were in 2000, and our investment in solar power has reduced fuel costs by more than $100 million this year. But our vision of a net-zero future will not be an easy journey. The path will undoubtedly include emerging technologies and innovations. We feel a responsibility to help fund and spur that innovation, and what better partner than the talented team at USF.”
As one of the nation’s leading research universities, USF has a deep and capable pool of faculty and students who can share their expertise across a wide range of disciplines to help develop cutting-edge solutions.
“The university is committed to conducting high-impact research to help solve global problems and improve lives, and clean energy accomplishes both,” said USF President Rhea Law. “We are grateful to Tampa Electric for their investment and this opportunity to collaborate on finding innovative solutions to reduce carbon emissions, find affordable clean energy alternatives and protect our beautiful Tampa Bay region.”
Tampa Electric has a strong legacy of partnership with USF. The university has worked with TECO on other clean-energy solutions, such as carbon sequestration, electric vehicles, smart grid technology and solar array efficiency. One in 10 Tampa Electric employees attends or graduated from USF.
"Renewable energy resources provide substantial benefits to our society, economy and overall health through job development and creation, and reduced carbon emissions and pollution," said Robert H. Bishop, Dean of the USF College of Engineering. "The development of environmentally friendly, clean energy systems provides enormous benefits and opportunities to society through reduced dependence on non-renewal fuel sources and reduction of greenhouse gasses and air pollution."
“TECO has been a great partner for the Clean Energy Research Center for research on solar energy and student education,” said CERC Director Yogi Goswami. “We appreciate TECO’s commitment to the future of clean energy development and decarbonizing the power grid."
Since the year 2000, Tampa Electric has reduced coal usage by more than 90 percent. Over that same period, Tampa Electric has cut carbon dioxide emissions in half – even while the demand for power has increased 25 percent. The company has also kept bills well under the national average while it increased reliability. The next milestone is a 60 percent carbon reduction by 2025, and then an 80 percent reduction by 2040. For more information on Tampa Electric’s vision for 2050, see the company’s web page on carbon reduction.
“We are truly grateful for this gift from Tampa Electric and the confidence it shows in our faculty and students,” said USF Foundation CEO Jay Stroman. “I want to thank Archie Collins and his leadership team for believing in USF. This investment takes our partnership to another level and will lead to clean-energy discoveries that benefit our Tampa Bay community and beyond.”
Tampa Electric has become the leading producer of solar energy per customer in the state. So far, the company has installed nearly 900 megawatts (MW) of solar. By the end of 2023, Tampa Electric will be generating enough solar energy to power 200,000 homes and will have the highest percentage of solar power of any utility in Florida, with more to come.