For TECO Energy’s John Ramil, past meets future – and opportunity meets action to benefit customers – as he explains at the recent EEI Strategic Roundtable in Tampa

The Tampa Electric-installed solar array at Tampa International Airport, seen here being built in 2015, is great news for travelers of all stripes.

The Tampa Electric-installed solar array at Tampa International Airport, seen here being built in 2015, is great news for travelers of all stripes.

With TECO Energy’s big Edison Electric Institute (EEI) Edison Award victory from last year still fresh in mind, TECO Energy President and CEO John Ramil presented at the EEI Strategic Issues Roundtable in Tampa on Feb. 24, 2016, to talk about how economic growth – and TECO’s place in it – continues to be a win for customers, the community and other stakeholders.

The event, for energy industry strategic leaders from across the country, was another opportunity to draw key connections between major positive changes happening in the Tampa Bay area and beyond and TECO’s efforts in Florida, New Mexico and North America. One of the most evident locally is the 70-acre redevelopment in the Channelside district, for which TECO will provide up to 30 megawatts (MW) of new electrical load in the coming years.

Ramil also talked extensively about Tampa Electric’s solar initiatives, including the just-completed 2MW array at Tampa International Airport and the upcoming 23MW array on utility-owned land near the Big Bend Power Station – in addition to other renewable opportunities the company is pursuing.

“We believe solar and renewable energy will play an ever-increasing role in our energy future,” Ramil said. “We believe in fairness – customers who use the grid should pay for that use and not be permitted to push costs to those unable to afford alternative sources of energy.”

Ramil emphasized to the audience that TECO believes Florida should move toward a solar policy that does not favor one group of customers over another. And that large-scale solar that goes to the grid is the best way to accomplish the sharing of the benefits and costs of solar power equally across all customer classes.

Moving on to milestones from TECO’s past – including the birth of the company that become Peoples Gas in 1895, followed by Tampa Electric’s debut four years later – Ramil shifted his focus to more recent events, including TECO Energy’s acquisition of New Mexico Gas Company. And as the company continues to explore a long list of exciting initiatives and solutions to improve the TECO customer experience and enhance the communities we serve, he came to the truly exciting news of joining forces with Emera, as planned later this year. The result will elevate TECO to become part of a top 20 North American energy leader.

“We have to remove personal biases and view the industry business landscape as it exists today, not as it once was or how we wish it existed,” Ramil said. “This is especially true when it comes to meeting customer needs. We’re investing in a new Customer Relationship Management and billing system that is geared to help meet customer demands for choice and control.”

Closing his presentation with mention of the fact that Tampa Electric’s reliability record is among the best in Florida while the company’s rates are among the lowest in the state, Ramil said these things go hand-in-hand with TECO’s commitment to the environment.

“We’ve been through an incredible transformation over the last 15 years from 100 percent coal-fired generation to where we ended 2015 at 52 percent natural gas – and where we will be tomorrow with additional natural gas and “non-emitting” generation,” Ramil said. “It’s proof that our industry can become greener, keep service standards high and keep rates reasonable if done in a rational, methodical way.”