APOLLO BEACH, Fla. - There are more than 100 acres at Tampa Electric’s solar farm in Apollo Beach, and about 100 lamps and sheep are used for “vegetation control.”
TECO rented Katahdin sheep to keep the grass short in the solar field. According to Cherie Jacobs, a TECO spokesperson, these type of sheep don’t have wool and therefore don’t need to be sheered.
“They are better suited for Florida’s climate,” she said.
Grazing sheep provided a significant cost saving over traditional mechanical lawnmowers, and they are better for the environment.
“Not only is it more environmentally friendly to have sheep out here,” Jacobs explained, “but it’s also significantly cheaper. It’s a quarter the cost of mechanical mowing.”
They’ve even launched a “LambCam” on their Facebook page where TECO shares live videos every day of the grazing sheep.
“They love to eat this type of grass – and it’s helping us,” Jacobs said. “We don’t want those plants and the grass to get too high that it would block the sun’s rays from our panels.
When the company’s solar expansion is complete in 2021, Tampa Electric will have nearly 7 percent of its energy generated from the sun – the highest percentage of solar generation of any utility in the state.