The warm runoff from the Tampa Electric Big Bend plant not far from us attracts hundreds of manatees when the local waters turn cold. So when the local TV station reported their sightings (photo below) earlier this week, we decided to go take a closer look this afternoon at the gentle and threatened “sea cows”. We saw several (mostly their noses) as they came to the surface.
As it turns out, a cold front had moved in last night and knocked power off for a few hours. So, it was good to see the 4 coal-fired units which generate 1,800 megawatts humming away. Last year TECO also added an oil-fired 60 megawatt “peaking unit” which can go from offline to full-load in 10 minutes.
The parking lot to the Manatee visitor center has several solar arrays. That contributes a capacity of 23.8 kilowatts – tiny compared to the fossil capacity, but still good to see.
If you find yourself in Tampa before April (before the waters turn warm and the manatees migrate away) the site is worth a visit. Or you can “visit” the manatees from around the world using the 2 webcams TECO has set up.