Let’s confront an inconvenient truth. Wind turbines on Hutchinson Island will not work. What makes this statement more shocking is that Florida Power & Light is well aware of this.
Then what could motivate them to proceed with a major project that will destroy the natural habitat, kill a multitude of birds, disrupt the environment, do damage to the infrastructure, and go against the wishes of the residents of Hutchinson Island?
The answer is quite simple.
FPL is motivated solely by huge government tax credits and subsidies. On a unit production basis, wind is subsidized 10 times more than any other energy source, yet contributes the least to our energy security. FPL Group, parent of FPL Energy, paid no income tax in 2002 or 2003 despite having profits of $2.2 billion during those years. There is no reduction in oil dependence because less than 2½ percent of all electricity produced in the United States was produced by oil.
Mike O’Sullivan, senior vice president of development for FPL Energy LLC, said, “it was more of a financial decision and investment decision that now has become very trendy. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”
Timothy O’Brien, co-founder and managing director at FPL Energy said, “the returns are outstanding.”
According to the most optimistic scientific studies performed by the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, a typical, modern, 417-foot-tall turbine can produce optimum electricity at wind speeds of 30 mph. However, as the wind speed decreases in half to 15mph, the efficiency factor reduces by eight-fold. The most optimistic studies show wind turbines working at a 26 percent capacity.
FPL invited Administrator Doug Anderson and Commissioner Joe Smith to its large wind farm in Abilene, Texas. Abilene has an average annual wind speed of 12 mph. The proposed site at Hutchinson Island has an average annual wind speed of 8.3 mph. This falls far below the threshold for even a minimum production of wind to be harnessed for electricity.
Time for the subsidies and tax relief may be running out. As of now, the federal subsidies are scheduled to be eliminated at the end of 2008. FPL is desperately racing against the clock.
Other areas already are fighting desperately to preserve their environment. Mayor Will Sherwood of the Village of Naples, N.Y., is engaged in a desperate legal battle against the wind turbines. The citizens of Tug Hill, N.Y., Meyersdale, Pa., Fenner, N.Y., and Mackinaw City, Mich., all complain of the wind turbine giants who came into their towns and left them with no new jobs, no support of their budgets and infrastructure damage unpaid for by the turbine companies.
Some people, including FPL, will tell you that this is just good business. But isn’t good business when a company provides a service according to the laws of supply and demand? Since there is no service provided, this cannot be regarded as good business.
Some people, might say this FPL is guilty of exploitation and fraud. But in the cases of exploitation and fraud, the problems can be alleviated. A car considered a lemon can be replaced. Any consumer item can be exchanged and there are consumer laws of protection.
What do we call a practice that systematically destroys the environment, ruins the landscape, kills thousands of birds, and breaks up the infrastructure? All this with no service provided, and billions of dollars taken from the people.
I personally cannot think of this practice being anything less than economic terrorism.
By Peter Degen, guest columnist
Degen, of Jensen Beach, serves on the Sand Dollar Shores board of directors.
12 February 2008
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