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Tampa Electric Faces Opposition From Pasco Residents Over Solar Panel Project

Tampa Electric
Tampa Electric plans to install 470,000 more solar panels

Tampa Electric’s solar panel project is facing pushback from residents in Pasco County, as homeowners have filed lawsuits against the installation of the facility.

The project, “Mountain View Solar,” would be constructed on 350 acres of land and would include 470,000 solar panels. It is part of Tampa Electric’s plan to add six million solar panels in ten new locations by 2021.

The solar facility would be built alongside Blanton Road in Dade City. Nearby residents have expressed their opposition to the project with concerns that the plant would negatively affect the surrounding area, including animal habitats.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Pasco homeowner Sandra Noble has filed two legal claims against Tampa Electric. The planned location of the solar field borders her property.

Noble “will be significantly and adversely affected’’ by the county decision “based on her interest in her property, in maintaining and protecting existing nature, use density and intensity of use of the rural property, health and safety, densities and intensities of development and compatibility of adjacent land uses,’’ her claim stated.

But a Tampa Electric spokeswoman believes the facility would be a major asset to the area.

“These solar projects make great neighbors. They have no noise, no emissions, they don’t use water, and they don’t increase traffic,” said Cherie Jacobs, spokeswoman for Tampa Electric. 

Credit Tampa Electric
Location of "Mountain View Solar" project plan

On the company website, Tampa Electric has listed their commitment to Pasco residents. They will continue to meet with landowners to discuss their concerns regarding planned landscape buffers along Blanton and Platt Roads. They have already addressed worries about a bald eagle nest on the southeast corner of the site.

“They had some concerns and we listened to them,” said Jacobs. “We’ve reduced the amount of acreage that will be developed. For example, right near the eagle’s nest. We will never develop anything near that eagle’s nest.”

Tampa Electric had planned for the site to be operational by 2019, but with the pending litigation, Jacobs cannot comment on an anticipated date of installation.

Two of the ten planned locations are already running. Five others are on-track to be operational by the end of the year. The company plans to power 100,000 homes with the project.

Jessica Barron is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for fall 2018.
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