TECO and TECO Peoples Gas do more than just keep the water hot and the stove burning for nearly 90,000 customers in Polk County: They also play an important role in the community.

“We are strong community partners, and we sponsor a variety of events and groups within Polk County that reflect that mission,” said Cherie Jacobs, spokeswoman for TECO, which was founded in 1899. “We are deeply invested in our community because this is our home, too. We live here and work here, and our company’s success is fueled by a vibrant community.”

Jacobs said Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas have two main priorities when it comes to supporting the community: education and economic development. Employees donate thousands of hours of their time to help local organizations, and the companies sponsor events throughout Polk County.

“We strongly encourage our employees to give back to their local communities,” she said.

In Polk County, Tampa Electric serves about 84,000 customers in five municipalities and about 750,000 customers in West Central Florida. TECO Peoples Gas serves another 5,000 customers in Lakeland and 375,000 people in Florida. Both companies are part of TECO Energy, a wholly owned subsidy of Emera Inc., which bought TECO in 2016.

Nick Plott, Regional Manager for Local Government and Community Relations, says when evaluating our commitment to Polk County, “The most important thing that TECO can achieve for Polk County is to provide safe, affordable and reliable electric and gas service.”

For many people in Polk County, where about 16 percent live below the poverty level, “affordable” is critical. TECO is proud to help their customers by offering the lowest residential rate in Florida in January 2019.

On the natural gas side, TECO Peoples Gas is proud of its customer service.

“For the sixth year in a row, residential customers of Peoples Gas ranked the company highest (in the) JD Power ranking for customer satisfaction among mid-sized utilities in the South region. We are proud of these achievements, especially knowing that utility rates and overall satisfaction are critical for economic development performance.”

Serving Polk County and being an investor in the Central Florida Development Council is important to the company, Plott said. “We are thrilled to support the great work happening at the CFDC as Polk County continues to be one of the fastest-growing counties in the state and country. We are excited about the near future.”

“We are in the process of building 600 megawatts of solar energy in West Central Florida,” she said “We are modernizing our Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach. We are bringing high-tech LED streetlights to all customers across our territory. We are upgrading all our electric customers to smart-meter technology. We are thrilled about the growth potential of our gas business.”