Library filed under Impact on Wildlife from Florida
Although the Sugarland Wind Project has won approval from the County Commission, it still faces a number of obstacles. The company needs state and federal environmental permits to proceed. There's also the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. And it's a given that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will take a closer look at the impact on wildlife.
The main objection facing Sugarland Wind is the bird deaths expected from putting towering, fast-spinning blades between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades, two prime destinations for migrating birds, wading birds and birds of prey. Sugarland backers have said they expect about three to four bird deaths per tower per year.
Splattered birds make going green a tough sell. The risk of birds flying into fast-spinning blades atop wind-catching turbines the size of the Statue of Liberty threatens to torpedo a proposed "wind farm" that could produce non-polluting energy on the edge of the Everglades.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a July 1 letter to the company called for a more thorough analysis of potential wildlife threats from the wind farm. The federal regulators said that bird "collisions with turbine blades are often fatal, and usually resulting in the animal being effectively eliminated from the breeding population."
The agency said there was potential harm to the Everglade snail kite, bald eagle, wood stork, northern crested caracara and the many species that inhabit the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Also at risk were bats, which play a role in controlling insects that would otherwise infest the farm fields.
That location would place the turbines near the northernmost remnants of the Everglades, as well as the South's largest lake and a series of man-made cleanup marshes that have become magnets for egrets, herons and ducks. The region is also the epicenter of a $15 billion Everglades restoration effort.
Florida Power & Light Co.'s proposal to put six wind turbines on company-owned property near the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant might affect several threatened species of wildlife, according to a recently released analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. According to the findings, FPL's proposal would have "a substantial adverse impact" on federally managed fisheries in the south Atlantic region and wetlands, the report states.
As Florida Power & Light Co. gets closer to a public hearing on its wind turbine plan, skeptics of the project have plenty of questions left unanswered. What about the effect on birds? Or sea turtles? And why put turbines in St. Lucie County in the first place? Nick Blount, external affairs manager for FPL on the Treasure Coast, tried to answer some of those questions from about 20 members of the Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County on Wednesday night and promised to try to find answers to others raised by residents. ... Indian Riverkeeper Kevin Stinnette said he has several issues he still thinks should be addressed, preferably by conducting a full environmental impact statement. Blount said the company would do what is required, but he didn't commit to a full environmental impact study. In addition to sensitive wetlands being in the area, Stinnette said he has concerns about the potential effects on sea turtles, fish and birds.
As Florida Power & Light Co. gets closer to a public hearing on its wind turbine plan, skeptics of the project have plenty of questions left unanswered. What about the effect on birds? Or sea turtles? And why put turbines in St. Lucie County in the first place? Nick Blount, external affairs manager for FPL on the Treasure Coast, tried to answer some of those questions from about 20 members of the St. Lucie County Conservation Alliance on Wednesday night and promised to try to find answers to others raised by residents. "I respect people's opinion about our wind project, but what I do want to do is tell our side of the story," Blount said. "That's what we want."
The below e-mail exchange provides insight into the possible impacts to endangered species, including Sea Turtles, should FPL win approval to erect six utility-scale turbines on Hutchinson Island, a barrier island off the coast of Florida. Originals of both e-mails can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.
The city of Fort Pierce has issued an edict (April 7 City Commission meeting) requiring all residents of condominiums on the beach to pull down shades, turn off lamps and batten down the lights to aid sea turtles in their search for nesting sites and ensuring hatchlings make their destination in the right direction - east. The lights confuse the turtles and cause the hatchlings to move toward land lights rather than toward the ocean. ...Now that we have this bit of information that should surprise no one, we move to giant wind turbines on the beach. What do they do to the sea turtles?
Do you really want to take the chance of ruining the lagoon and destroying our sport-fishing resource for something that we do not have enough wind for? The evidence points to the fact that wind turbines might be a disaster to our environment and proper independent studies have not been conducted by either the county or FPL. County commissioners have a choice to represent either their constituents or FPL. I urge them to stop the procrastination, and unless proper, independent, ecological studies are initiated, please save the county a lot of time and money and ban the turbines immediately.
Let's confront an inconvenient truth. Wind turbines on Hutchinson Island will not work. What makes this statement more shocking is that Florida Power & Light is well aware of this. Then what could motivate them to proceed with a major project that will destroy the natural habitat, kill a multitude of birds, disrupt the environment, do damage to the infrastructure, and go against the wishes of the residents of Hutchinson Island? The answer is quite simple. Money. ...I personally cannot think of this practice being anything less than economic terrorism.
The Acquisition and Restoration Council, a state agency that oversees the use of public conservation lands and makes recommendations on new lands for purchase, will discuss Florida Power & Light Co.'s turbine project Thursday and make its decision Friday. FPL wants to put nine wind machines on the island, six on its own property and three on state-owned land that is leased by the county. The county learned of the state meeting Friday and added the turbine discussion to Tuesday's morning commission meeting agenda. The county apologized to residents for the late notice, but felt it was important to have the discussion prior to the Tallahassee hearings, said Erick Gill, a county spokesman. ..."It's unfortunate we're forced to react on such late notice, but we have to move forward," said Commissioner Doug Coward, who has opposed putting the turbines on public conservation land.
ARC Chairman David "Lane" Green Tall Timbers Research Station 13093 Henry Beadel Drive Tallahassee, Florida 32312 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Bowing to public pressure, Florida Power & Light Co. has dropped its plan to put 400-foot-tall wind turbines on public, waterfront parks, company officials said Wednesday. Instead, it wants to build three on land owned by the state and the South Florida Water Management District and six on FPL property at the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant. ...Indian River Drive resident Sandy Steinruck said she's still concerned the wind turbine construction will damage valuable wildlife habitat. "We've seen in Colorado the damage and the mess they create," she said.
As much as Florida needs more clean energy alternatives, giant windmills don't belong on St. Lucie County beaches that were bought with public money to preserve. Florida Power & Light Co., whose representatives are lobbying county commissioners, wants to put five wind turbines on the company's property near the utility's nuclear plant on Hutchinson Island. ...Commissioner Doug Coward supports clean energy, but he correctly questions the legality of using public land for private profit. He also worries that the windmills could "change the character of the landscape" and prevent people from enjoying the rare South Florida experience of less-developed beaches.
FPL has looked for good Florida sites for wind power since 2005, Ms. Bennett said, and Hutchinson Island "looks like it's worth pursuing." FPL "wants to coexist as good environmental stewards," and will work with all agencies to avoid impact on birds and wildlife. That's good to know, because the information available about wind energy and wildlife indicates that some impact - literally - is inevitable.