Tampa is making major strides to become a green city. On June 16, the officials announced that the City of Tampa Department of Solid Waste and Environmental Program Management became the second City in the nation to own and operate its own waste to energy facility.
Over the last 25 years, a private contractor managed the operations and facility maintenance of the city-owned McKay Bay Waste to Energy (WTE) Facility, according to a release on the City of Tampa’s website.
With the transition has come the hiring of 55 employees, including WTE Plant Manager, Christopher Eckert, P.E. Many of the new hires were existing facility employees or were retained through competitive recruitment.
This transition is set to reduce the Department’s annual operating expenses by approximately $5 million dollars.
The City intends to invest the savings into the facility to increase the longevity of the plant and ensure that maximum energy is produced from Tampa’s waste stream. “This is an exciting and critical time for the City’s future. This plan will increase the reliability and the sustainability of the Solid Waste Department and the City of Tampa,” said Eckert.
Each day, the McKay Bay WTE facility converts more than 2 million pounds of household and commercial refuse into a renewable fuel source – electrical energy.
In 2019, the WTE facility processed more than 310,000 tons of waste and generated enough electricity to power approximately 15,000 homes. The process saves over 302,000 barrels of oil and reduces the need to landfill solid waste.
“The safe operation of Tampa’s solid waste system has become more apparent in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective removal and disposal practices have been essential towards maintaining sanitary conditions throughout our City. Although the pandemic wasn’t on the radar when we considered our options, the development of the current events solidified our decision to take on this endeavor.” said Mark Wilfalk, Director in a release.