TAMPA - Tampa Electric Company is pulling the plug on the Republican National Convention. And it's on purpose.
The goal is to reduce the chances that the RNC will fall victim to any power outages during the week of events starting Monday.
To accomplish this, TECO will cut off the Tampa Bay Times forum from the power grid this weekend and transfer the burden to generators.
"Tampa Electric has been working as a partner for nearly two years to set up this back-up generation," said Cherie Jacobs, a TECO spokeswoman. To put the power demand in perspective, Jacobs said a typical Tampa Bay Lightning game puts significant demand on the system. The RNC is expected to require five times as much electricity.
"They have five very large generators, about the size of semi-trucks, and we helped them install them and connect them," Jacobs said.
It's a complicated procedure to turn off the power at the Forum. "It's not as simple as flipping the switch to your generator from Home Depot," Jacobs said.
The transfer will leave the facility in the dark for half an hour. Workers plan to make the switch in the middle of the night during the weekend, to minimize impact on final preparations for the RNC.
July and August typically put the most demand on the power grid because the hot weather requires constant air conditioning in homes and businesses. That can lead to occasional outages. But that's not the biggest concern.
Isaac remains top of mind for convention organizers. The potential for the storm to become a hurricane and strike Tampa the week of the convention could lead to power outages, possibly for extended periods.
"We've worked very hard to harden our system, but we can't control what Florida has in store for us," Jacobs said.
The generators run on fuel, and as long as they remain working, the Forum will stay fully operational.
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