(Originally published in the Q2 2015 UTC Journal. Reprinted with permission)
Tampa Electric Company is the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy Inc. (NYSE: TE), an energy-related holding company with regulated utility operations in Florida and New Mexico. The utility owns and operates three power plants that produce nearly 4,700 megawatts (MW) of capacity to serve more than 700,000 customers spread across some 2,000 square miles in West Central Florida.
As might be expected in the Sunshine State, afternoon use of air conditioning creates a high demand. But Tampa Electric’s peak demand actually occurs in the winter based on the widespread use of electric heating, with a record high instantaneous peak load of 4,760 MW. And owing to the growing use of more efficient heat pumps throughout the state, the winter load is becoming nearly as inductive as the summer load, when both heat pumps and air conditioners are being used for cooling.
According to Lee Collins, Tampa Electric’s Business Process Consultant for Energy Delivery Technical Applications, “We’ve deployed capacitor banks throughout the distribution network to compensate for this load, of course, but the lack of two-way communications prevented us from getting the results we wanted. So we needed to generate more reactive power to compensate, and that was becoming increasingly expensive. We needed a better solution.”
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