Where Do Water and Energy Collide Like a Freight Train? Tampa Electric
Around the State
The nexus between water and energy runs straight through Tampa Electric's coal-fired power plant, and Tom Hernandez, vice president of energy supply for the utility, was the first to admit it.
"We have to cool a lot of steam," Hernandez said, "and we use a lot of water to do it -- 2 billion gallons a day, and that's billion with a 'b.'"
All such power plants have a need for vast quantities of fresh water, and the Tampa utility -- TECO, as it's known -- serves its 700,000 customers with three such plants, one in Hillsborough County, one in Polk County and one in Sebring.
In 2009 the company began a project to minimize the water it uses. It partnered with Lakeland and the Southwest Florida Water Management District, pumping their unwanted water to the Polk County station, then on to the city of Lakeland wastewater treatment facility near Mulberry. TECO installed 15 miles of pipeline to get its water to the power plant site where it is further treated, then used as part of the facility's cooling water.
Tampa Electric also contracted for the deepest deep-well disposal in rural Polk County to get rid of concentrate from reverse osmosis treatment of reclaimed water. The exploratory injection well was designed as the deepest permitted well in the state of Florida.
Once a suitable injection zone was identified, the well was repermitted as a Class I deep injection well. It wasn't long before a second injection appeared on the drawing board.
The injection well IW-1 was initially permitted to go down 6,000 feet below land surface (bls) with injection zones into the Upper Cretaceous lower Cedar Keys and Lawson Formations. It was later extended to 8,000 feet bls to evaluate deeper formations for additional permeability.
But Hernandez said evaluations showed the first injection well would be able to accept all of the injection flows of approximately 1.3 million gallons per day. The second injection well evaluated for a carbon sequestration through a pilot project.
In 2012, Tampa Electric took its water conservation efforts a step furher, said Hernandez, joining with the Florida Aquarium (FLAQ) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to create what he called "a landmark partnership" for a Florida conservation and technology park.
Much of the park, built near Tampa Electric’s existing Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, is still in the conceptual phase. But, as far as Hernandez is concerned, it's a done deal -- to serve as a nexus for recreation, learning and conservation as well as research and technology. "It will all be entry-fee-free."
“The Manatee Viewing Center already welcomes more than 200,000 visitors per year," he said.
But this is only part of what's coming, according to Hernandez:
The Energy Technology Center, featuring outdoor exhibits that demonstrate state-of-the-art energy technologies. As visitors tour the site, they will learn about renewable energy alternatives that are reliable, environmentally responsible and potentially viable for the Florida energy market.
The Center for Conservation, jointly managed by FLAQ and FWC, will engage and educate visitors about the connections between Florida’s waters, plants and fishes. Highlighting the aquarium’s conservation, education and animal rescue programs as well as FWC’s Fisheries and Youth Conservation education programs, the center will show how these contribute to preserving Florida’s animals and ecosystems.
Camps and Educational Facility, to be part of the Center for Conservation. It will provide unique learning experiences that immerse students in hands-on exploration of Florida’s natural environment.
Animal Rescue, Research and Holding Facility will be staffed and managed by FLAQ, providing much-needed additional animal holding capacity to maintain its exhibits. The space will also house critical programs that help preserve threatened and endangered species and ecosystems -- for example, sea turtles and river otters, and new research facilities for the aquarium’s research initiatives, such as the coral reef restoration project.
Saltwater Fish Hatchery will be operated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Interpretive Trails will include both walking and canoe/kayak trails throughout the park. Visitors will be able to tackle a physically challenging Treetop Interpretative Trail and elevated viewing platform to observe and photograph native birds.
Catch and Release Fishing Programs will be conducted by FLAQ and FWC at the park for all ages.
Tampa Electric's other subsidiaries include TECO Coal, which owns and operates coal production facilities in Kentucky and Virginia, and TECO Guatemala, engaged in electric power generation and energy-related businesses in Guatemala.
Hernandez's presentation was a taste of next year's summit, which Commissioner Adam Putnam promised will focus more intensely on Florida's water and energy nexus.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423.