Tampa Electric Company
The primary subsidiary of TECO Energy Inc., Tampa Electric Company has been in operation since 1899. Serving much of the Tampa Bay area with electricity, the company has grown from a small independent cooperative power company to its present size through the construction and operation of a number of power stations that today supply electrical energy to more than 670,000 residents in Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk and Pinellas counties.
Its parent company, TECO Energy Inc. is traded on the NYSE and owns two other subsidiary companies, TECO Coal and TECO Guatemala. The Tampa Electric Company is a fully regulated utility service that provides both electric and natural gas to individuals and businesses in the region; the total output capacity of its electric power stations is in excess of 4,400 megawatts.
The H.L. Culbreath Bayside Power Station near Tampa Bay is a natural gas facility that has the ability to produce 1,800 megawatts of power. The Big Bend Power Station near Apollo Beach is a coal-fired facility that has four separate furnace units and a power output capacity of more than 1,700 megawatts. The Polk Power Station, located about 40 miles southeast of Tampa in Polk County, is a complex facility that uses combined-cycle technology as well as simple coal-fire and distillate oil within its five separate generating units, producing about 940 megawatts of total electricity.
New technology at the modern power stations operated by Tampa Electric Company has resulted in favorable ratings in terms of airborne pollution and environmental impact. The stations mentioned above are newer facilities that have been completed and opened since 1970. Older power stations were almost completely coal-fired and used basic furnace and boiler designs which produced a much higher level of airborne pollutants.
Asbestos was also commonly used at the generating stations over the past century. Before the 1980s, medical findings about the danger of asbestos fibers was not yet widely publicized and many power stations including those operated by Tampa Electric Company used asbestos regularly as an insulator and fire shielding substance. These older power stations were often fitted with asbestos-laden tiles, wallboards and sheetrock, without an acceptable level of resulting safety.
This insulation allowed workers to be protected from hot steam pipes and metal surfaces. However older buildings exposed to high temperatures also begin to lose much of their structural integrity over the years and free-floating asbestos fibers are commonly released. Employees inhaling asbestos fibers were later found to be at risk for lung cancer, asbestosis and the dangerous and malignant condition known as mesothelioma.