Articles from Florida
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.
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.
Throughout the year, utility regulators held meetings on how to increase the amount of energy the state gets from renewable sources. "When you look at the need the state has, we have a growing energy demand, and we need to balance how we meet that demand with cost, energy security, energy diversification ... a number of things we've done over the past two years puts us in a better place," said Lisa Edgar, outgoing chairwoman of the five-member PSC. "It's certainly been an exciting year for energy issues, and I think the commission has done good work." And on the final day of the year Monday, state legislators will get a list of recommendations from the Florida Energy Commission to take up during the legislative session. "This was really a historical year for Florida. How do we continue the momentum?" Smith said. "There are a lot of folks that can be obstructionist to where the governor goes - the state legislature and the utilities are going to be big players in that.
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?
The Florida Public Service Commission demands that electrical utilities provide reliable power at reasonable rates. Despite this mandate, Gov. Charlie Crist signed a series of executive orders requiring utility companies to begin work by Sept. 1 towards generating at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources with an emphasis on solar and wind energy. Although well-intentioned, these executive orders were apparently signed without considering that Florida does not have high-intensity sunlight as found in low-humidity deserts and lacks sufficient wind energy to make wind turbines feasible.
As one who has been in close proximity to those behemoths in operation, let me pass on my thoughts. First, something that large spinning above you creates a high level of anxiety. Then there is the swooshing sound as each of the huge, rotating propeller blades passes by in concert with the whine of the generator. In addition, the blades' moving shadow creates a strobe effect which will be cast directly on the parks before and after mid-day, the otherwise most popular time to visit. ...Those parks are for the pleasure of the taxpayers who fund them, not the benefit of Florida Power & Light, which would take that pleasure away with the help of our elected governing body. Commissioners, do not let this turn into an excuse for another first-class junket. View a video, if you must, and just say no.
The discussion on the proposed windmills on our coast seems to have ignored the serious potential of devastating damage that these structures could cause. Although they "would be designed to withstand hurricane-force winds" it is doubtful that they could be engineered to be completely secure in a Category 3-4 or 5 hurricane or a tornado. The blades of these turbines are designed to produce optimum benefits from the wind, which means to me that if they were detached in a hurricane or tornado, they would become lethal missiles that could slice through not only nearby homes, but would pose a grave danger to the nuclear power plant facilities as well.
Several dozen people took Florida Power & Light Co. up on its offer to show off potential sites for wind turbines on the island ...Residents, many opposed to the project, fired questions at FPL officials, asking about the effect of the turbines on birds and the environment, shadows and noise, and questioning why St. Lucie County was picked to be the first place in the state for the wind machines. On occasion, protesters challenged statements made by FPL, including claims the noise level will be at about 35 decibels (quiet enough to hold a conversation underneath them) and that shadows would be only a limited problem at dusk and dawn.
Dozens of people, some wielding protest signs, showed up Friday morning as commissioners toured two sites where Florida Power & Light Co. wants to place wind turbines. Drawing the most ire from residents is a proposal to place four of the wind machines, which stretch more than 400 feet in height when a blade is fully extended, on public land at John Brooks and Frederick Douglass parks. The other five would be on FPL land near the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant. The crowd of people surrounded FPL officials at the two sites, firing off questions about the environmental impacts, the noise and the feasibility of the turbines working in Florida. "I just didn't expect there would be this kind of response," said Commissioner Paula Lewis, one of three county commissioners who took part in the tours.
Seeking a new source of energy for this region, Florida Power & Light wants to build nine 400-foot wind turbines along the beach. Some would be on the company's Hutchinson Island property. No problem there. Some, though, also would be at Frederick Douglass and John Brooks parks, which the public bought to preserve. Problem. ...It would be stupid, however, for St. Lucie to give up beachfront at a time when it's so expensive to acquire. And make no mistake, the public would be giving up beachfront, even though some county commissioners have maintained that beachgoers would see no difference. Who are they kidding? A 400-foot turbine that causes the light to flicker would have no more impact than a seagull?
Jane Brooks, who has been active for 30 years in conservation efforts and worked with her husband for the state to buy the property, said she favors alternative energy sources but not on public beaches. She cited a management plan that says John Brooks Park was purchased to "maintain the land in as natural a state as possible" and to "preserve a section of coastline from further development, protect its native plants and animals and provide recreational opportunities for the people of St. Lucie County." Coward said that allowing wind turbines contradicts promises made to voters when they approved a bond issue to buy beach access for preservation and recreation.
County commissioners expressed support Tuesday for bringing wind turbines to Hutchinson Island, but were divided over whether to put them on public land. Florida Power & Light Co. has proposed up to nine turbines, which would be the first of their kind in the state, at several different locations on the island. Four would be on public land and the other five would be located at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant, the first on the grounds of a nuclear plant site in the United States.
FPL wants to build six turbines at Hutchinson Island, where it operates a pair of nuclear generators on waterfront property. Some of the turbines would be on FPL's property and the rest on an adjacent county-owned park, if the county approves. ...According to FPL, though, the Sunshine State and most of the Southeast don't have sustained winds that are strong enough to generate electricity except within a half-mile of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from North Carolina to Texas. A fact sheet from subsidiary FPL Energy LLC shows average winds range between 11.5 and 14.3 mph along the coasts, but drop to less than 12.5 mph everywhere else in the southeastern states.
John Brooks fought hard to keep parts of Hutchinson Island in its natural state, free of golf courses and condos, his daughter says. Now Dickie Brooks worries a proposal to place wind turbines on the island in public parks — one named for her father — could go against the spirit of his conservation efforts. "My concern is that various people, my father included, have managed to purchase and preserve a very limited number of miles of Florida beach in its natural state for public use," Dickie Brooks said. "I really am opposed to any use of those beach properties which doesn't directly benefit the public's enjoyment of the quintessential Florida beach experience."
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.
First it was the coal-fired plant they tried to build in western St. Lucie County, until residents had a hissy, which forced them to try again in Glades County, where more hissy fits followed and, with encouragement from state officials, they officially threw in the towel. Under pressure to find a source of more electricity, preferably one that might not pollute the air, the utility is looking hard at harnessing the power of wind. Which is a noble thing. But noble goes only so far.
Florida Power & Light Co. wants to put some of its proposed windmills on beach property owned by St. Lucie County as well as on company-owned land near the nuclear power plant on South Hutchinson Island, a company official said Wednesday.