The Floridian electric utility said that it will also retire one of the coal units of the power plant located on Tampa Bay in southeastern Hillsborough County, near Apollo Beach.

According to Tampa Electric, it will be Unit 1, which will be modernized to operate on natural gas, thereby eliminating coal as its fuel. Unit 1 of the Big Bend Power Station was commissioned in 1970.

The unit to be retired is Unit 2 in 2021. Unit 2 was placed into operations in 1973 and will be decommissioned after 48 years of power generation, said Tampa Electric, which is a subsidiary of Canadian energy company Emera.

Construction on the modernization project at the Big Bend Power Station is expected to begin as early as 2019. Commissioning will be done in phases, starting in 2021 with full capacity operations to be achieved in 2023.

Once fully commissioned, the Big Bend Power Station will be able to generate 1,090MW in a two-on-one format, said Tampa Electric. The company in recent years had introduced natural gas as a secondary fuel to all four units.

Tampa Electric said that the project will change its fuel mix to a significant extent. Last year, 67% of its energy came from natural gas, 24% was from coal while nearly 9% was from other sources such as solar.

In 2023, the company expects its energy mix to be 75% percent natural gas, 12% coal, around 7% solar, and approximately 6% from other sources.

Tampa Electric president and CEO Nancy Tower said: “This project will improve the land, water and air emissions at Big Bend.

“Coupled with our significant increase in solar power, these changes will make Tampa Electric substantially cleaner and greener than it is today. This investment in cleaner generation will also provide significant savings to customers through lower expenses for fuel and maintenance of the existing units.”

In September 2017, Tampa Electric announced an $850m investment to add 600MW of new solar capacity through 10 solar projects between 2018 and 2021.