Florida Steel Plant Installs Half-Megawatt Solar System for Substantial Savings

Tampa Tank Inc.-Florida Structural Steel (TTI-FSS), a steel fabrication company, has completed installation of a 507-kW solar system at one of its three Tampa-based manufacturing facilities. The new platform is expected to save the company up to $80,000 in energy costs the first year by drawing power initially from the solar installation; and secondly, from local supplier TECO Energy.

At a half a megawatt, this is the largest solar installation for an industrial plant in Hillsborough County, Florida – and one of the largest in the state, the company announced on February 26.

 Solar Advantage installed the 1,492 Canadian Solar 340 panels and 51 inverters for property developer Shepard Capital Partners, from whom TTI-FSS leases the facility.

David Reed, principal at Shepard Capital Partners, member of TTI-FSS’ Advisory Board, and founder of the nonprofit Sustany Foundation, commented, “Solar energy is an appealing alternative power source because it [will substantially reduce] operating costs while securing a large portion of the company’s power needs for 25 years at a lower fixed price, from 13 cents per kilowatt currently to 3 cents per KW.

“In addition,” said Reed, “TTI-FSS will benefit from a federal investment tax credit worth 30 percent of the system’s cost and the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MARCS) bonus depreciation of 50 percent for the first full year of operation.”

According to TTI-FSS founder Cal Reed, the company made the investment after evaluating three factors:

  • The return on investment;
  • The viability of the manufacturing plant structure, itself, to support the number of solar cells necessary without having to reinforce it; and
  • The proposal from Solar Advantage “to provide the quality and savings we expected at a reasonable cost.”

He said, “Fortunately, all three factors aligned to make this project possible.”

The solar power cells capture sunlight and turn it into direct current (DC) electricity, which flows to the inverters to convert it into alternating current (AC) electricity. The AC electricity moves to the breaker box, where it is used to power the facility’s lights, tools and other manufacturing equipment.

The installation is complete and will be put in operation within the month, as soon as the bi-directional solar meter is installed by TECO.

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