On May 18, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued an extension to Tampa Electric related to a plan to add natural gas as the start-up fuel at the Big Bend coal plant.
On April 24, Tampa Electric requested an extension of the expiration date of an air construction permit for the Big Bend Station located in Hillsborough County. The utility requested the additional time to complete the testing and operation of the steam generating boilers (Units 1–4) using natural gas. The testing requirements of the Units 1-4 natural gas project, which involves replacement of more expensive distillate oil for boiler touch-off and flame stabilization, will be completed and operating in 2016. Based on the circumstances and information provided, the department extended the expiration date of the air construction permit until Jan. 1, 2017, from the prior deadline of Jan. 1, 2016.
Tampa Electric, which is a subsidiary of TECO Energy (NYSE: TE), operates four pulverized coal steam units (Units 1 through 4) at Big Bend. Those units are equipped with flue gas desulfurization scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators and selective catalytic reduction. Big Bend Units 1 through 4 collectively have a net summer capacity of 1,542 MW and a net winter capacity of 1,572 MW. The plant burns mostly high-sulfur coal from the Illinois Basin.