I hate to pounce on our friends at Florida Power & Light Co. These are, after all, the people who power up our air conditioning.
But I can’t help it. They keep setting themselves up as punching bags.
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.
Last week, at a meeting with St. Lucie County officials and representatives of homeowners associations, FPL reps revealed plans to build as many as nine giant wind turbines along Hutchinson Island – not just on their own land but at two public parks.
The company owns beachfront property around its nuclear power plant but wants more land for the turbines to the north, between the plant and Ocean Village.
They want to build the things on Frederick Douglass Beach and adjoining John Brooks Park, which taxpayers bought in the 1980s.
Utility’s profit margin at stake
Just to make it abundantly clear, we have a private utility, which makes a profit on its service of selling electricity to the public, wanting to use public land.
To help it make more electricity.
To help it make more of a profit.
It is times like these when I know I wouldn’t make a very good county commissioner.
St. Lucie commissioners appeared to take a dignified, tactful approach when learning of FPL’s plans. Two said they wanted to know more about the project but weren’t excited about the idea.
Another, Charles Grande, responded with, “Those are pretty much underused parks.”
If I had been there, I would have responded with, “Ha ha ha haha haha … he he he hehe.”
Or perhaps something stronger, such as: “You have got to be kidding me.”
Which is why I wouldn’t be a very good commissioner. This thing of wearing emotions on one’s sleeves isn’t best for public service.
I think wind power is an admirable alternative energy source. I’m all for it. But not on land that I’ve helped pay for.
And yes, Grande is right. Those beaches are “underused.”
I’ve been out there when there wasn’t another soul to be seen. It’s a real shame that the beaches aren’t packed with people, but their loss is my gain. Shame on them.
This is how “underused” they are: Friday morning, there was one car in the parking lot at John Brooks Park, a Chevy with a Pennsylvania license plate, and there were two cars at Frederick Douglass Beach, one of which appeared to belong to the lifeguard.
How about buying private land?
But does that mean we should give the space to a utility?
Of course not. And I’m sure our public officials wouldn’t agree to it.
But it just galls me that FPL would even float the idea.
The company that is pushing the turbines-on-our-beaches idea boasted a profit last year of $610 million, triple its earnings from the previous year. I suggest they take some of that money, buy up private land that might otherwise be turned into oceanfront condos, and use that property for giant windmills.
Or, they could tear down “underused” condos and do the same.
Thanks for giving up on coal plants, FPL. But how about leaving our public beaches alone?
By Glenn Henderson
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
14 October 2007
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