Fortunately, Florida Power & Light Co. has withdrawn plans to build 400-foot windmills on two oceanfront parks in St. Lucie County.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. Having dropped the idea of putting the turbines at John Brooks and Frederick Douglass parks, FPL is eyeing land north of Blind Creek Beach. St. Lucie County contributed money to buy the property, with the state also contributing. The South Florida Water Management District also owns some of the land.
FPL wants to build six windmills on land it owns near the company’s nuclear plant on Hutchinson Island. While that plan would raise other issues regarding wetlands the utility agreed to preserve around the plant and the potential impact on birds and other wildlife, the land belongs to FPL. Still, residents on the west side of the Indian River Lagoon across from the plant have posted signs protesting the windmills, which would dwarf the twin plant towers.
The land FPL now targets, St. Lucie County Commissioner Doug Coward said, includes “one of the premier tropical hammocks in St. Lucie County, as well as some Indian burial mounds” which could make it an archeological site as well as a conservation area. But Commissioner Coward, who opposes using conservation land for the project, is in the minority.
FPL quotes Commission Chairman Chris Craft in its news release praising the utility. The county recently sent Commissioner Joe Smith, administrator Doug Anderson and a public relations employee to Texas to inspect windmills there. Commissioner Smith and Mr. Anderson add their praise. But a remote area of Texas is not a wildlife-rich barrier island in Florida.
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.
Palm Beach Post Editorial
19 January 2008
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