New micro-grid generator hybrid will keep Metro Ministries running during disasters

As Hurricane Irma barreled toward Tampa in 2017, Metropolitan Ministries was bracing for landfall. Tampa escaped the wrath of Irma’s eye, but it left thousands without power – Metro Ministries included.

Yet, they still had hundreds to feed.

“200 families came to us looking for food or shelter or navigation,” said Metro Ministries’ CEO Tim Marks. “They had lost power, they had lost their jobs. There was just a lot of loss.”

The North Florida Avenue location had to make do with what they had.

“In our parking lot, we put a mobile kitchen in, and started feeding people in the parking lot,” Marks said.

It made CEO Tim Marks realize just how vulnerable Tampa can be during hurricane season, so the non-profit teamed with TECO and generator company Power Secure to invest in a micro-grid. It was unveiled in Tampa Friday. Different from a generator, it connects to the energy grid, but can also disconnect and operate on its own.

“We’ll be able to maintain our hunger relief programs and maintain safe shelter for our families, as well as be a community resource, when the community comes to us, needing more help,” Marks said.

“This is part of our investment in the community and the community partnerships to help make this a better place for everyone,” said TECO Spokesperson Cherie Jacobs.

Marks says the investment will make a difference for decades of hurricane season.

“What it would cost just to re-wire the campus would have been just over $200,000,” he said. “That’s about what we paid for the initial capital investment. And by working with TECO and their tariff’s program, we’re able to take savings that TECO passes to us, and pass those savings on to pay for the generator.”

To ensure that the power is always on at Metropolitan Ministries.