Articles from Florida

FPL's same old tricks

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."
12 Feb 2008

Anthony Westbury: Turbines, my friends, may be just blowin' in the wind

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.
12 Feb 2008

Site for FPL project in Texas far different from island site

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.
11 Feb 2008

Nassau entrepreneur ready to harness the wind

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."
11 Feb 2008

St. Lucie commissioner calls FPL's wind turbine plan illegal

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.
11 Feb 2008

St. Lucie lawmakers to weigh wind turbine plan this week

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.
11 Feb 2008

Wind turbine project all about tax breaks for FPL

This one is about corporate tax avoidance through massive tax subsidies lobbied for by Enron, which was the largest wind developer in the United States before its demise and which pioneered the tax shelter as a commodity. FPL Group paid zero federal income tax in 2002 and 2003 despite more than $2 billion in profits, largely because of the wind projects of its wind subsidiary, FPL Energy, according to Citizens for Tax Justice. But, now it has gotten so bold that it is proposing putting wind turbines where we don't have sufficient winds to get close to the 30 mph required to reach the turbines' rated capacity. Destroying environmentally sensitive lands on Hutchinson Island and the quality of life for people in a populated area for an industrial wind plant is like burning down rain forest to build a solar farm.
10 Feb 2008

Hutchinson Island is wrong place to put wind turbines

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.
9 Feb 2008

St. Lucie officials to consider wind turbines Tuesday

A decision on whether St. Lucie County commissioners want wind turbines on South Hutchinson Island could come Tuesday because state officials would like an answer later in the week. A state advisory committee known as the Acquisition and Restoration Council will hold a public hearing Thursday and vote Friday in Tallahassee on whether Florida Power & Light Co. should be allowed to use 6.3 acres in Blind Creek Park just north of the nuclear power plant. ...County Attorney Dan McIntyre has recommended the county oppose use of Blind Creek property because $3.6 million from a voter-approved bond issue helped buy the land. The ballot approved by 67 percent of the voters said the money should be used to protect environmentally significant land and wildlife habitat. ..."I'm disappointed we didn't get more advance notice so the public would have more opportunity to speak," Coward said. "It's unconscionable and now we have to add it to our agenda at the last minute."
9 Feb 2008

Are wind turbines a nuclear threat?

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.
8 Feb 2008

Wind turbines might sit atop 20-foot bases

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.
6 Feb 2008

Anthony Westbury: A fly on the wall on turbine debate

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.
5 Feb 2008

St. Lucie residents ally to sway public against FPL wind turbine plan

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.
2 Feb 2008

Public needs more data, assurances from FPL on windmill proposal

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 St. Lucie County commissioner tried to rubberstamp this project without public comment or confident data. Florida Power & Light told the community at the coal plant hearings there wasn't enough wind here to be productive, presumably to get their coal plant. FPL seems only to be looking at the price of land - not at science.
2 Feb 2008

People speakout against proposed wind turbines

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.
2 Feb 2008

FPL plans to continue push for wind turbines on Hutchinson Island

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."
1 Feb 2008

County attorney recommends against FPL turbines at Blind Creek Park

The St. Lucie County attorney is recommending against letting Florida Power & Light Co. build wind turbines on state land at Blind Creek Park because county conservation money was used toward buying the park. The recommendation is similar to one he made last year against allowing FPL to build turbines at Frederick Douglass and John Brooks parks, county-owned land that was purchased through bonds approved by voters for conservation purposes. FPL announced earlier this month that it was scrapping plans to put the machines at those parks, and would instead place six turbines on its own property at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant and another three on an undeveloped parcel of state land at Blind Creek Park. ...Sharon Bennett, an FPL spokeswoman, said the company is reviewing McIntyre's recommendation, though she said some state officials have "offered a different opinion" about the legal status of the property. "We anticipate they will also be weighing in on the issue," she said.
30 Jan 2008

Anthony Westbury: FPL decision creates more questions than answers

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.
21 Jan 2008

New FPL plan no better

Fortunately, Florida Power & Light Co. has withdrawn plans to build 400-foot windmills on two oceanfront parks in St. Lucie County. Unfortunately, moving three of the wind turbines to other public land bought for conservation would be no improvement. It would be the same problem in a new location. No matter how much the state wants to emphasize renewable energy, allowing such private projects on preservation land would set a bad precedent for the entire state. ...If, as a utility spokeswoman said, FPL wants to be a good neighbor, it's easy: Stop the push to build windmills on conservation lands.
19 Jan 2008

Surfers oppose wind turbines along St. Lucie County beaches

St. Lucie County's John Brooks Park and Frederick Douglass Park are beaches people usually go to relax and enjoy nature. Each public facility is set aside for conservation and recreation, but an ill wind has blown in a new swell of controversy for local surfers - and it's not red tide. It's Florida Power & Light's "Winds of Change" initiative to build nine commercial wind generators along St. Lucie County's remaining desolate beaches that has them all riled up. Standing roughly 412 feet tall, each white cylindrical turbine is almost 100 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty and requires an impact zone of one acre. ..."As far as Surfrider goes, these wind turbines should not be built on land that is set aside for conservation and recreation," said Andy Brady, Fort Pierce surfer and chairman of the Surfrider Foundation's Treasure Coast Chapter. "We're all for alternative energy, but not on public land."
17 Jan 2008
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