TAMPA, Fla. – May 16, 2022 – Emera Technologies announced today that utility Tampa Electric Company (TECO) has successfully purchased, installed and received regulatory approval for its BlockEnergy® microgrid platform for use in a pilot program serving Southshore Bay residential development, a community south of Tampa, Florida. The BlockEnergy™ 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 Lennar Homes (home builder) and Metro Development Group (land developer) 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 BlockBoxTM, 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 percent 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,” said 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,” said Rob Bennett, chief executive officer 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. It’s a significant milestone pointing to the platform’s commercial readiness for widespread adoption in Florida and other U.S. regulated utility environments. 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,” said 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.”