TECO Net-Zero Plan Threatens to Take Tampa Backwards on Clean Energy Commitments

Federal leadership is needed to help Florida communities achieve clean energy goals

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Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, with the support of Tampa’s Mayor Castor, the city’s utility monopoly TECO announced a plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The commitment is severely lacking in details, but one thing is for sure — it threatens to take the city backwards on clean energy, without a firm commitment to ending the use of fossil fuels citywide. 

TECO’s announced commitment is at odds with an enacted resolution passed by the Tampa City Council earlier this year, which called for 100% renewable energy by 2035, more than a decade before TECO has committed to a weaker “net zero” energy grid. In addition to a slow timeline, advocates warn that net-zero commitments are smoke and mirrors, relying on faulty carbon offsets and untested carbon capture technology to distract from the continued burning of polluting fossil fuels.

Where the city has all but abdicated responsibility to act boldly on clean energy, Tampa Bay Climate Alliance groups called on Tampa’s U.S. Representative Castor to push bold federal policies that eliminate fossil fuel use nationally to act where Tampa is not. Brooke Errett, Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer said:

“With less than a decade left to enact sweeping reforms of our energy grid, TECO’s faulty net-zero commitment is an embarrassment. Business as usual is nowhere near bold enough for the crisis we face. Mayor Castor should know better than to buy greenwashed corporate commitments like this one. We need U.S. Representative Castor to step in and champion federal policies that cut fossil fuels out of our energy grid once and for all.”

“TECO’s Net Zero by 2050 commitment just means the company will pay for carbon offsets or invest in carbon capture technologies as they continue to pollute, with no formal commitments to transition or phase out of fossil fuels,” said Mary-Elizabeth Estrada, Tampa Climate Justice Organizer with the Florida Student Power Network. “We need a just-equitable transition from TECO, not another performative greenwashing commitment to continue business as usual, while our future is at stake.”

“PSR Florida joins climate scientists and healthcare professionals around the globe in viewing net zero carbon as a dangerous trap that denies the urgency of the climate crisis and net zero’s inequitable application for low-income communities. Shame on TECO and the Mayor of the great City of Tampa for dragging the city into the trap,” said Howard Kessler, MD, President PSR Florida. “PSR Florida calls on federal policy makers to protect public health and address the climate crisis by promoting 100% clean and renewable energy legislation today.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]