Wind turbines like the ones proposed by Florida Power & Light Co. on Hutchinson Island have been called ugly by residents worried about the 400-foot-tall structures with their large, whirling blades.
Imagine the turbines standing atop a concrete foundation 10- to 20-feet high on a public beach access.
The large pedestals could be needed to protect the towers from a storm surge washing over the dunes along the Hutchinson Island coastline where FPL proposes to build the electricity-producing wind turbines.
Henrietta McBee, FPL’s director of project development, raised that possibility when she and St. Lucie County Administrator Doug Anderson visited the Horse Hollow Wind Farm near Abilene, Texas, early in January.
That comment is included in a county-made video of Anderson touring the 40-mile-long wind turbine center and talking with Abilene-area residents to get their opinions of living near the wind turbines.
FPL proposes six wind turbines on land the company owns near the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant and three on land owned by the state and the South Florida Water Management District.
Company officials did not mention the height of the foundations when they took reporters, residents and officials on tours of the proposed sites in December.
“I’m not surprised by this because FPL has given us misinformation before,” Indian River Drive resident Julie Zahniser, an outspoken critic of the project, said Tuesday. “I think the whole thing is an industrial disaster.”
FPL spokesperson Sharon Bennet said Tuesday that the height of the foundations has not been determined and will depend on results of soil borings to be made at the wind turbine sites.
Maps of predicted storm surge in various strength hurricanes also will influence the design.
The company has started soil tests on the property it owns, but must wait for approval to do them on state-owned land managed by St. Lucie County.
The wind turbines would generate enough electricity to power 3,000 houses for one year, according to FPL officials.
The company first proposed wind turbines on John Brooks and Frederick Douglass beaches, but backed off after County Attorney Dan McIntyre said a bond issue used to buy the property restricts its use for recreation and conservation purposes.
Anderson and County Commission Chairman Joe Smith, who also visited Abilene, said they detected no serious problems with noise from the wind turbines.
By Jim Reeder
6 February 2008
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