Library filed under General from Florida
Three Florida Power & Light Co. wind turbines could be built amid human remains and Ais Indian artifacts that an archaeologist hired by St. Lucie County found in Blind Creek Park. Archaeologist Bob Carr called the area a "prehistoric cemetery," though only scattered bones and no skeletons were found. Ceramic pottery and shells also were discovered. "It was obviously a big campground," Mosquito Control Director Jim David said. "There clearly was camping and fishing and oystering there." ..."The survey was part of the state requirements before we removed exotic species with heavy equipment," David said.
This week, Florida should avoid setting a bad precedent. The state should not allow Florida Power & Light to build giant wind turbines on land the state and St. Lucie County bought to preserve. FPL is trying to rush a state decision at a Thursday hearing in Tallahassee before the Acquisition and Restoration Council, an advisory board. A decision could come on Friday. If the council approves the plan, Gov. Crist and the Florida Cabinet would cast the final vote. ...This is the second time FPL has played last-minute tricks to get its way in St. Lucie County. In 2005, the utility wanted to build a large coal plant. To get around opposition, FPL offered $13.6 million to help an opponent who had drainage problems, and altered the plant's boundaries to change the definition of who was considered a "neighbor."
This morning's St. Lucie Board of County Commission meeting could see the end of the Florida Power & Light wind turbine project on Hutchinson Island. But don't bet on it. Rumor has it some commissioners would prefer to "punt" and delay a decision until they have more information. ...The wind turbine opposition comes from a multitude of angles: the 40-story height and appearance of the towers and their whirling blades wider than a jumbo jet; the possibly lethal effects on wildlife (especially birds); the unpleasant "strobe" effects spinning turbine blades tend to have on those living nearby; the noise that's been described as like a wrapped brick in a clothes dryer; reduction in property values; the possible safety threat to the nuclear plant from what's attractively called "blade throw," should one ever come off in high winds. Hey, it's happened.
Residents packed commission chambers Tuesday morning in anticipation of a discussion on Florida Power & Light Co.'s proposal to put wind turbines on Hutchinson Island. The company wants to place six turbines on property it owns at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant and three on state-owned land at Blind Creek Park that is leased by the county. The Acquisition and Restoration Council, a state agency affiliated with the Department of Environmental Protection that oversees the use of public conservation lands and makes recommendations on new lands for purchase, will discuss the project Thursday in Tallahassee and make a decision regarding it Friday. ...In an e-mail to its members, the St. Lucie Chamber of Commerce recommended the commissioners not make a decision Tuesday, but wait until they have more information on the project.
The "low-hanging fruit," as Wayne Hildreth calls it, is in the windy West and Midwest. It's going to take some convincing for politicians and the general public, but Hildreth said clean, renewable wind power may have a big future in Florida as well. ...But as the state's political climate changes - Gov. Charlie Crist signed an executive order last year calling for more renewable energy - and the technology for wind turbines continues to improve, Hildreth said he expects business to grow. "I think there may be something in Florida, but it's going to be baby steps," Hildreth said. "There's going to have to be a public education component."
Wind power is green and clean. All it takes is land, transmission lines, substations, collection systems, windmills that are 40 stories high and constant wind of 12 miles per hour. The nine experimental low-wind-speed turbines Florida Power and Light plans to build may provide electricity to 2,500 homes. May, that is, if the wind blows 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Otherwise, the windmills will stand tall and still. FPL wishes to experiment with unregulated low-wind-speed turbines in St. Lucie County.
Florida Power & Light Co.'s proposal to put wind turbines on public conservation land within the county is simple: It's illegal. That's the message St. Lucie County Commissioner Doug Coward told a crowd of more than 100 people Monday afternoon during a meeting at Ocean Village. FPL wants to put nine wind turbines on the island, including six on property it owns and three on Blind Creek Park - state-owned environmentally sensitive land leased by the county. In 1994, St. Lucie County voters agreed by referendum to pay additional taxes so the county could acquire environmentally significant land for recreation and the protection of wildlife habitat. Coward read the ballot language to residents, which he called clear and unambiguous. ...Coward encouraged residents to show up in full force Tuesday to voice their concerns to the County Commission. One woman in the audience asked residents to wear red T-shirts to the meeting.
It does not seem wise to invest in wind-turbine energy infrastructure within a coastal high-hazard zone, especially if sustainable long-term energy development is the goal ("FPL shifts sites for wind turbines," Jan. 18). Hutchinson Island is an eroding barrier island subject to frequent over-wash by storm events. The area south of the proposed sites has been an inlet nearly six times, and Blind Creek was cut open by the 2004 storms. ...The public has not received assurances, much less data, as to whether these turbines can withstand hurricanes. The review process itself started off on the wrong foot. All but one county commissioner tried to rubber-stamp this project without public comment or sound data.
Two St. Lucie Nuclear Plant employees have raised safety concerns about wind turbines damaging the plant, but Florida Power & Light Co. officials maintain there is no danger. The concerns are raised in internal documents from FPL that were sent anonymously to County Attorney Dan McIntyre on Thursday. ...One of the messages recommends discontinuing the project on FPL property. A manager posted a response to the messages Aug. 23, noting the exact locations of the turbines still was to be determined and a safety study was underway.
Wind turbines like the ones proposed by Florida Power & Light Co. on Hutchinson Island have been called ugly by residents worried about the 400-foot-tall structures with their large, whirling blades. Imagine the turbines standing atop a concrete foundation 10- to 20-feet high on a public beach access. The large pedestals could be needed to protect the towers from a storm surge washing over the dunes along the Hutchinson Island coastline where FPL proposes to build the electricity-producing wind turbines. Henrietta McBee, FPL's director of project development, raised that possibility when she and St. Lucie County Administrator Doug Anderson visited the Horse Hollow Wind Farm near Abilene, Texas, early in January.
I simply can't get past the feeling the wool's being pulled over our eyes by FPL. I base this on gut reaction and online research. From what I can see, this project has much more going for it in PR/political/financial terms than anything remotely to do with energy production. Why? The site is way too small to offer any sensible economic advantage. Yes, it might tell FPL whether wind power along Florida's coast is viable, but I suspect they know it isn't already. A Department of the Interior study puts all of Florida's coastline firmly in the "marginal" category. Even if turbines did produce meaningful amounts of electricity, experience in Europe (about 10 years ahead of us in energy policy terms) suggests it may be more trouble than it's worth. ...So if it's not useful, practical or financially rewarding, why on earth is FPL so hell-bent on building turbines here? My guess is that with federal tax credits, tax write-offs for depreciation and so on, it may actually be more lucrative for utilities not to produce power.
While Florida Power & Light Co. is moving forward with plans to bring wind turbines to St. Lucie County, a group of residents is trying to spread information about the controversial project. The 3-month-old grass-roots group, Save St. Lucie Alliance, says it wants to get accurate information out to residents. On Saturday, about 40 residents attended a meeting at the Fort Pierce Community Center, where Brad Jones from Naples, N.Y., presented his findings and perspectives. ...FPL picked St. Lucie County for the project because it has a plant in the county, there is open land on the coast, and the commission has been supportive of alternative energy. However, after Saturday's informational meeting, County Commissioner Doug Coward said as he learns more, he's becoming more skeptical about the project.
A New York activist opposed to wind turbines urged locals today to organize to defeat a plan to bring nine windmills to South Hutchinson Island. The 400-foot-tall windmills, proposed by Florida Power and Light Co., aren't suited to Florida's coast, which gets winds that average 5-8 mph, far less than optimal for wind power, said Brad Jones, a Naples, N.Y., resident battling windmills under construction or proposed for three of his neighboring communities. Jones said the windmills also produce far less electricity than proponents claim, can significantly harm wildlife, and produce visual and noise pollution that will drive down nearby property values.
Florida Power & Light Co. is moving forward with plans to place wind turbines on state land at Blind Creek Park despite one county commissioner coming out against the site and the county attorney advising against it. County Attorney Dan McIntyre released a memo late Wednesday advising commissioners to not allow FPL to put turbines on the land, which is co-owned by the state Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund (affiliated with the Department of Environmental Protection) and the South Florida Water Management District. The county helped the state buy the land, currently leases it and acts as the land manager. McIntyre opposed the plan because the county contributed $3.6 million to the state to buy the property, using money from bonds issues approved by voters to buy and protect "environmentally significant lands and wildlife habitat."
The news last week that Florida Power & Light has abandoned a quest to site wind turbines on St. Lucie County public beach land must have come as a relief to some. To the rest of us, it provided more questions than answers. Why, for instance, would FPL now subject itself to even more environmental scrutiny on state-owned land? Wouldn't that put back their timetable even more than using county-owned sites? And why is FPL only looking at a grand total of nine windmills here? Look at their other wind farm operations in Texas and California, where turbines number in the hundreds or thousands. ...I still don't get it. Our tiny project will never generate enough juice to make a dent in demand. Folks in St. Lucie aren't happy at using public land for windmills. Yes, we might find out that Florida wind is strong enough, but the scale is all wrong even if that's the case.
Florida Power & Light Company has amended applications it filed in St. Lucie County to rezone properties proposed for wind turbine locations. The amended plans will remove four turbine sites previously under consideration at John Brooks and Frederick Douglass Parks and propose placing six wind turbines on property FPL currently owns at the St. Lucie nuclear power plant. The remaining three turbines are proposed for a parcel of undeveloped state-owned land adjoining the plant’s property to the north. ...
More than 1300 miles from home, standing in a cow pasture outside Abilene, Texas, Doug Anderson goes in search of windmills. This field trip is a bit of a departure for Anderson, who works as St. Lucie County's administrator. "We went out there to report back to the folks in the local community and come back with a factual report, and unbiased report," he says. ...Of course while windmills may work in the pastures of West Texas, Anderson admits the beaches of South Florida present a very different picture.
St. Lucie County Commission Chairman Joe Smith climbed, looked at and listened to windmills in Texas on Wednesday and said afterward, "nothing I saw made me nervous." ...He compared the noise to the sound of an airplane flying overhead. But the sound isn't loud enough to prevent conversation. "Standing at the base, there was a hum from the windmill," he said. "When the wind blows, you hear it more than the hum." The wind was blowing 8 miles per hour, so he couldn't tell if they're noisier at higher wind speeds.
County Administrator Doug Anderson and Commission Chairman Joe Smith, along with a videographer, will travel to Abilene, Texas, next week to view Florida Power & Light's Horse Hollow Wind Energy Centers, which have more than 400 wind turbines on almost 60,000 acres in two counties. Other commissioners have not committed to going, but may still join the trip, according to a county spokesman. FPL's proposal to put nine wind turbines on Hutchinson Island in St. Lucie County - four potentially on public land - has been a divisive issue. Those against the project protested during a tour of the possible sites in December and have been vocal in meetings and in letters and e-mails to county commissioners.
The public beaches that Florida Power & Light would like to use for its windmills were obtained "for environmental protection and compatible outdoor recreation." The management plan includes "to preserve a section of the coastline from further development, ...If we cannot honor past commitments, why even bother making commitments?