What Were They Thinking? Florida Power & Light Backs Off Wind Farm In Park Proposal


Is there really a shortage of prospective sites for wind farms in Florida? Likely the impetus for proposing one off a taxpayer-bought beach was a matter of cheaply connecting to the grid and avoiding the prospective wrath of condominium and hotel owners. Weak strategy.

Bowing to unexpected public opposition, Florida Power & Light is abandoning plans to use a state-owned beach on Hutchinson Island for Florida's first industrial wind farm. Instead, the utility will try to confine a smaller version of its original $61 million clean-energy proposal on its nearby coastal property, adjacent to its St. Lucie nuclear-power plant.
Maybe the power was needed for desalination? See::"Florida Counties Consider Test Of Murphy's Law With $200 Million Dollar Offshore Desalination Plant"

And, the national anti-windfarm lobby has fired up their turbines, helping keep the controversy alive.

Although public lands are no longer being considered for Florida Power & Light Co.’s wind turbines proposal, three of the remaining six machines would be near public beach access at Walton Rocks. All six are proposed for FPL property near the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant.

Although FPL officials said Tuesday they would keep public access to the site, it remains a concern for the Treasure Coast chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to conservation efforts to protect beaches and the ocean. Walton Rocks is a popular surfing spot and Andy Brady, the chapter’s current chairman, said he’s been riding waves there for about 30 years.

TreeHugger suggests a visit to the Surfrider Foundation blog for a balanced view of the issue.

There is a general solution to this kind of problem . Taking a chapter from the siting of solid waste management facilities back in the 1970s and 80's, developers might consider sending letters of inquiry to all local units of government and environmental groups representing coastal areas, asking for their input on desirable locations. "Power to the people."

Credit Where Due Department: FPL is doing it's homework, taking the rational ,science based route for the next proposals.

Texas Christian University, FPL Energy, and Oxford University have announced the formation of a groundbreaking partnership and research initiative to better understand the ecological and socio-economic impacts of wind power development. The five-year research initiative includes three primary focus areas, including wind turbine impact on birds and bats; wind turbine ecological impacts; and socio-economic impacts of wind projects.

The avian and bat impact assessment is expected to produce a better understanding of the interactions between birds and bats and wind turbines. This research effort will focus on developing and testing statistically robust protocols for pre and post-construction monitoring of avian and bat movement and mortality.

The ecological and climate research team will conduct a carbon analysis to assess the extent to which wind energy reduces atmospheric carbon that would otherwise be emitted as electricity is generated from fossil fuels. This research effort will also focus on ecological impacts of wind farms such as habitat fragmentation, local species movement, and regional land-based migration.

Both direct and indirect socio-economic impacts of wind projects will be analyzed on a local and regional basis. Measurements will include land use revenue, taxes, and employment. This study also will explore the impacts on local culture and customs, including a viewshed analysis to assess the aesthetic impact of wind projects. When key aesthetic factors are understood, researchers will suggest ways to minimize the appearance of wind turbines.

Via::Orlando Sentinel, "FPL backs off on state beach wind-farm project"; AND Wind-Watch, "Proposal for turbines near Walton Rocks draws concern" AND Energy Daily, "New Study On Impacts Of Wind Energy Development In The USA" ; Image credit::On Hutchinson Island, beach scene - Fort Pierce Inlet State Park

Related Content on Treehugger.com