The wind may be blowing hard enough in Florida to produce electricity after all.
Florida Power & Light Co. said Thursday it intends to explore building a wind-power project near the coastline of St. Lucie County.
“This is a great first step in seeking more renewable generation resources in Florida,” FPL President Armando Olivera said. “Adding wind will help diversify our fuel mix and is emissions-free.”
The company pointed out, as it has in the past, that wind in Florida “is not consistently strong and reliable enough to produce a large amount of electricity” but said the utility would “explore ways to best use this resource.”
FPL’s sister company, FPL Energy LLC, is the largest provider of wind power in the country, with 47 wind farms in 15 states.
If built, the FPL project would be the first wind-power farm in Florida.
“I am very pleased that after several weeks of discussion, FPL has decided to take this important first step towards the development of a wind-power project in Florida,” Gov. Charlie Crist said Thursday in a statement. “Wind power, like other renewable energy sources, will play an ever-increasing role as Florida seeks to counter the effects of global climate change.”
FPL spokeswoman Karen Vissepo said the utility is looking at land it owns in St. Lucie County as a potential site. The company, which operates two nuclear plants on Hutchinson Island, had little other information Thursday night.
The announcement came two days after the state Public Service Commission said FPL, Florida’s largest utility, could not build a 1,960-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Glades County, arguing it was not the most cost-effective option.
The utility also filed a zoning application with Miami-Dade County on Wednesday as part of a plan to consider adding two more nuclear plants at its Turkey Point site near Homestead.
Everyone from environmentalists to Crist has criticized FPL for not doing enough to produce energy from renewable fuels such as solar and wind power, especially because its sister company has been so successful in those areas.
“I’m thrilled to hear that Florida Power & Light is going to look at wind opportunities in Florida,” said Susan Glickman, a consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “FPL has long been a leader in wind.
“They are the right company, and this is the right time to explore wind and further develop that technology.”
FPL said it would lean on FPL Energy to figure out the best way to produce wind power in Florida.
Wind power makes up about 30 percent of the power FPL Energy generates, producing 4,000 megawatts a year in states including Texas, Wyoming, New Mexico and South Dakota. FPL Energy also plans to add 140 megawatts of wind energy on New York’s Long Island.
The company said Thursday that before anything is built, FPL would have to be sure the site is the best one and that it has considered environmental factors and regulatory requirements.
FPL Energy’s wind farms, for example, have taken heat over killing birds and bats that have gotten caught in its large turbines.
In Rehoboth Beach, Del., some residents challenged a wind farm planned by Delmarva Power, saying they didn’t want to look at the large, noisy turbines.
St. Lucie County Administrator Doug Anderson declined to comment Thursday about FPL’s proposal. Commissioners rejected the utility’s attempt in 2005 to open a coal-fired plant in southwestern St. Lucie County.
“I don’t know much about it yet,” County Commission Chairman Chris Craft said Thursday of FPL’s wind-farm plan. “Tallahassee turned down their coal plant. Maybe they’re trying to clean up their image.”
By Kristi E. Swartz
8 June 2007
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