It does not seem wise to invest in wind-turbine energy infrastructure within a coastal high-hazard zone, especially if sustainable, long-term energy development is the goal. Hutchinson Island is an eroding barrier island subject to frequent overwash by storm events. The area south of the proposed sites has been an inlet nearly six times, and Blind Creek was cut open by the 2004 storms.
Placement of the wind turbines on the island could in fact encourage costly, damaging responses to sea-level rise and hurricanes, including sea walls and massive dredge-and-fill projects on one of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches in North America.
The public has not received assurances, much less data, as to whether these turbines can withstand hurricanes.
The review process itself started off on the wrong foot. All but one St. Lucie County commissioner tried to rubberstamp this project without public comment or confident data. Florida Power & Light told the community at the coal plant hearings there wasn’t enough wind here to be productive, presumably to get their coal plant. FPL seems only to be looking at the price of land – not at science.
Without other details, such as wind energy siting standards and the lack of statutory requirement for the state Department of Environmental Protection to oversee the siting, this project seems able to move forward without addressing very real issues that other states require to be resolved.
Before this discussion continues, FPL really needs to study whether wind is the best alternative energy for this region and properly review all sites and impacts.
2 February 2008
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