Article

FPL plans coal plant

Ten months after the St. Lucie County Commission denied Florida Power & Light an opportunity to build a coal power plant, the Glades County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved the project. If the state signs off on the deal, the coal power plant would be the first of its kind in the country, FPL said, because it would use new, more environmentally friendly technology that would emit fewer pollutants......FPL said the plant is needed in a state where almost 1,000 new residents move in every day, and where the cost of natural gas, another source of electricity, continues to rise. The plant would also make service more reliable, FPL officials said.

Ten months after the St. Lucie County Commission denied Florida Power & Light an opportunity to build a coal power plant, the Glades County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved the project.

If the state signs off on the deal, the coal power plant would be the first of its kind in the country, FPL said, because it would use new, more environmentally friendly technology that would emit fewer pollutants.

The plant would provide electricity to 650,000 homes and would employ 180 full-time workers.

"This is history in the making," said Glades County Commission Chairman Butch Jones.

While commissioners said the $3 billion plant would be a financial windfall for Glades County, some Floridians are concerned about the environmental impact.

Lori Cloutier, a member of the Calusa Chapter of the Sierra Club, which covers Glades County, said the plans are "irresponsible."

"When their cancer rate goes up, they won't be so thrilled," Cloutier said.

FPL said the plant is needed in a state where almost 1,000 new residents move in every day, and where the cost of natural gas, another source of electricity, continues to rise. The plant would also make service more... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Ten months after the St. Lucie County Commission denied Florida Power & Light an opportunity to build a coal power plant, the Glades County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved the project.

If the state signs off on the deal, the coal power plant would be the first of its kind in the country, FPL said, because it would use new, more environmentally friendly technology that would emit fewer pollutants.

The plant would provide electricity to 650,000 homes and would employ 180 full-time workers.

"This is history in the making," said Glades County Commission Chairman Butch Jones.

While commissioners said the $3 billion plant would be a financial windfall for Glades County, some Floridians are concerned about the environmental impact.

Lori Cloutier, a member of the Calusa Chapter of the Sierra Club, which covers Glades County, said the plans are "irresponsible."

"When their cancer rate goes up, they won't be so thrilled," Cloutier said.

FPL said the plant is needed in a state where almost 1,000 new residents move in every day, and where the cost of natural gas, another source of electricity, continues to rise. The plant would also make service more reliable, FPL officials said.

How much it will cost consumers is too early to tell, they said.

Economic gains

For a county with less than 11,000 people and median income of about $30,000, according to 2000 U.S. Census figures, a promise of more than $21 million property taxes each year means a lot to Glades.

It would mean more money for schools, roads and police, for example.

“The additional income for this county is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,”
Glades County Commissioner Paul Beck said.

Construction alone would require 1,600 workers each year for the next five years, FPL officials said.

After the commission read the resolution allowing the power plant to locate on 5,000 acres of sugarcane fields owned by Lykes Brothers, residents who attended Tuesday’s meeting applauded.

No one opposed the proposal.

Charlie Morningstar, who lives about 5 miles from where the plant would be located off state Road 78, said the commission made the right decision.

“We need the employment,” he said. “The contractor will probably bring people from outside, but there will be jobs for a lot of our people.”

Ellen Geake said she lives farther away from the land and thinks the plan will turn the county “in a new direction.”

“It’s what Glades County needs. We deserve it,” she said. “I think it’s going to be such a boost not only to the economy but also to the morale.”

Environmental debate

The proposed plant may boost Glades’ economy and morale, but environmental groups are worried what it will mean for Southwest Florida.

The proposed plant process is known as “ultra supercritical coal technology.” It involves heating coal to produce steam at higher-than-usual temperatures.

FPL says the process is more efficient and environmentally friendly, but less advanced than a new, even cleaner process called coal gasification.

The proposed plant, FPL officials said, would have multiple pollution controls to help remove sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, fine particulates, mercury and carbon monoxide before it is released into the atmosphere.

It would also use low-sulfur coal that would be shipped by port and rail from foreign and domestic sources including Appalachia. Sulfur counts wouldn’t exceed 2 percent of the fuel blend. Less sulphur in the product means less sulphur in emissions, said Richard Blanchette, FPL’s construction director.

But John Walke with the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York said the plant is not the best technology available.

“Anytime someone uses the phrase ‘advanced clean coal technology,’ it’s code for ‘We’re trying to persuade you it’s the best it can be when it fact it’s not,’” Walke said.

Blanchette said the cleaner method of coal gasification has not been proven to work in larger plants such as the proposed Glades site.

An FPL press release says wind and solar power also are not reliable enough for large-scale use.

Cleaner energy source

FPL maintains the proposed plant would be cleaner than others. Its efficiency alone would reduce pollutants by 20 percent, FPL officials said.

“There’s been a lot of opposition to coal-fired power plants, but there’s not another plant operating like this in the U.S.,” said Blanchette, adding that Germany and Japan use similar plants.

Blanchette said the plant won’t release water that used in the process. The leftover ash and gypsum will be recycled into building materials, including cement and wallboard.

Air pollution emissions are below mandated standards, he said.

St. Lucie says no

When FPL initially tried to build the plant in St. Lucie, the Defense Council worked with environmental groups there to defeat the move.

More than 60 percent of people living near the proposed plant site opposed the move. On Nov. 7, the county commission listened, denying the plant a zoning change after an 11-hour meeting.

Raymond Wazny, St. Lucie’s assistant county administrator, said the county was concerned about the pollutants. The plant was the most contentious issue he has
seen in his 10 years there.

“I think the board might have reacted differently if the plant ... was a cleaner, more efficient plant,” he said.


Emissions a concern

But mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and other particles still will be released into the air.

Blanchette said studies that would show the amounts of pollutants aren’t finished yet.

However, when the plant was proposed to St. Lucie, estimates showed annual releases of 12 million tons of carbon dioxide, 890 tons of particulate matter and 200 pounds of mercury.

Mercury in the air can go into nearby water sources, such as Lake Okeechobee, and contaminate fish.

Other pollutants can damage the environment and cause health problems such as asthma, said Susan Glickman, a Florida-based consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“It’s really a giant step backward for FPL, which traditionally has been one of the environmental leaders,” Glickman said.

Glades says yes

After St. Lucie denied the project, FPL approached Glades County because of its abundant land and water and because of its access to railroad lines.

In February, FPL began working with the Glades commission.

However, the item was not on the commission’s agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.

County attorney Richard Pringle said the county only had to provide the state a letter saying FPL had submitted a site plan that meets county requirements.

The commission didn’t have to vote on the issue but wanted to show that the county was “100 percent behind” the project, Pringle said.

There are no immediate neighbors of the proposed site, although downtown Moore Haven is only about 5 miles away.

Glades commissioners said they don’t believe the plant will harm residents.

“I plan on living here for a long time, and I have children here,” Commissioner Russell Echols said. “I wouldn’t do anything I thought would harm myself or them.”

WHAT'S NEXT
Approval by the Glades County Commission on Tuesday was the first step in an estimated 18-month process for Florida Power & Light to receive the final OK for its proposed coal plant.


• By the end of the year, FPL plans to file a site-certification application with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

• Approval is also needed from the Florida Public Service Commission and the State Power Plant Siting Board, headed by the governor.

• The plan would also be reviewed by the South Florida Water Management District, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, among other government agencies.

• The public also will have a say in the matter at hearings and workshops.


• State licensing can take 18 months.

• If approved, construction would take five years.

BY THE NUMBERS

• 18,000 megawatts: Current production capabilities at any given moment for Florida Power & Light

• 11: Power plants owned by FPL, including two nuclear plants• 97 percent: Waste occurs through air emissions. Two percent is through water and 1 percent through ash.

• 1,960: megawatt powered by the new plant, made from two 980 megawatt units

• 650,000: Homes that would be serviced by new plant• 180: Full-time jobs at new plant

• 1,600: Construction jobs per year during the five years needed to build it
• $21 million: Annual taxes paid to Glades County if the plant is built

• $3 billion: Cost to build the plant

• 5,000: Acres power plant would occupy• $60,000: Average annual salary of plant workers

• 4.4 million: FPL customers
• 500,000: FPL customers in Southwest Florida

• 1,000: New people moving to Florida every day, making more electricity production necessary

• 43 percent: Amount of natural gas used to produce electricity for FPL last year.• 19 percent: Nuclear production

• 18 percent: Coal
• 17 percent: Oil

• 3 percent: Other

egillespie@news-press.com


Source: http://www.news-press.com/a...

SEP 15 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/4607-fpl-plans-coal-plant
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