April 24, 2024
Solar Pilot
Mark and Tamara Brandt never lost power during Hurricane Ian thanks to a microgrid in their neighborhood.

Photo: Chris Lake

Solar Pilot
TECO installed batteries and solar panels on 37 homes at Medley at Southshore Bay near Tampa.

Photo: TECO

Climate, Sustainability and Energy

Solar Pilot

A solar microgrid project in one neighborhood provides relief when the power goes off.

Laura Cassels | 2/22/2023

Hurricane Ian put Florida’s energy grid to the test last year. When the storm snuffed out electricity to approximately 2.7 million Floridians, a handful of communities with alternate power sources shone in the darkness.

Tamara Brandt and her husband, Mark, who retired to Wimauma in the Tampa Bay area from Champaign-Urbana, Ill., in May, were able to keep their home powered during and after the storm. The 37 homes in the Medley at Southshore Bay community are testing a solar-powered back-up energy platform.

“I’m very grateful. We felt really safe and had full power,” says Brandt. None of the homes in the community lost power thanks to the neighborhood microgrid system — a network of batteries at each home that stores solar power collected from rooftop panels.

Tampa Electric Co. (TECO) is evaluating the performance and cost-effectiveness of the system, called BlockEnergy, developed by Emera Technologies, a subsidiary of Nova Scotia-based Emera, which owns TECO.

“During Hurricane Ian, there were power outages in that neighborhood, but the microgrid did not lose power. They disconnected from the grid and ran off their batteries. The microgrid provided seamless back-up power to those homes,” says TECO spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs.

Emera’s BlockEnergy microgrid is only intended to be a temporary source of energy during widespread power outages, Jacobs says.

The utility is evaluating all aspects of installing microgrid batteries and solar panels in a four-year pilot project.

Tags: Feature

Florida Business News

Florida News Releases

Florida Trend Video Pick

One of the oldest manatees in Florida dies
One of the oldest manatees in Florida dies

She captured the hearts of so many people as one of the oldest manatees on record. But sadly, Zoo Tampa is mourning the loss of their beloved sea cow, Juliet.

Video Picks | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Do you think recreational marijuana should be legal in Florida?

  • Yes, I'm in favor of legalizing marijuana
  • Absolutely not
  • I'm on the fence
  • Other (share thoughts in the comment section below)

See Results

Florida Trend Media Company
490 1st Ave S
St Petersburg, FL 33701

© Copyright 2024 Trend Magazines Inc. All rights reserved.