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Crist: Find another place for FPL windmills

Gov. Charlie Crist said today he is talking to Florida Power & Light about finding another location for its proposed wind turbines, but the power company said it’s sticking with St. Lucie County, at least for now.

Crist said FPL should consider locations that “may not have the resistance we’re seeing in St. Lucie County.”

Crist said he understands St. Lucie County residents want to make sure the land used for turbines is an appropriate location.

“I can’t disagree,” Crist said. “I want to make sure it’s appropriate too.”

Critics of FPL’s proposal say it’s not appropriate to put three windmills on public conservation land and that they should be on land owned by FPL or some other private owner.

FPL didn’t budge from its position after hearing of Crist’s comments.

“We believe the St. Lucie County wind project is one of the appropriate answers to this important challenge,” FPL spokesperson Amy Brunjes said. “FPL has and will continue to look at other sites, but Hutchinson Island remains the best site we’ve identified so far.”

FPL also proposes six windmills on its own property at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant.

She said the site is the best they’ve found because its near the large power lines that feed electricity into the grid.

County Commissioner Doug Coward was encouraged by Crist’s comments.

“I’m pleased the governor recognizes the importance of the site selection process,” Coward said. “We all want green energy in an appropriate place.”

Coward’s been the most out-spoken against FPL’s plan because of the three windmills the company wants to put in Blind Creek Park, owned by state agencies but purchased partly with St. Lucie County’s $3.6 million from a voter-approved bond issue.

The ballot language provided purchases should be for preservation of environmentally-sensitive areas.

“The county attorney has said we shouldn’t allow windmills on property purchased with that bond money,” Coward said.

FPL hoped to get state approval to use Blind Creek Park from the Acquisition & Restoration Council, but the topic was postponed until April after local commissioners said they should give their opinion first.

Another county session with FPL is expected before that April meeting.

FPL touts the wind turbines as a “green” solution to providing energy without pollution.

The nine windmills would provide enough power for 3,000 houses for one year, the company said.

By Dara Kim and Jim Reeder
Palm Beach Post Staff Writers

Palm Beach Post

19 February 2008