St. Lucie County planners may hire an outside consultant to review Florida Power & Light Co.’s plans for six wind turbines on South Hutchinson Island, a move that’s likely to delay a county decision for weeks if not months.
Assistant Growth Management Director Robin Meyer said this week he asked Florida Atlantic University officials if faculty members can review the project, but hasn’t received a response.
“I’m not an expert on wind velocities,” Meyer said. “Some independent experts should take a look at it.”
Opponents in the Save St. Lucie Alliance have questioned the safety of wind turbines in hurricane-force winds and noted possible dangers to migrating birds and bats and possible effects on sea turtles.
They also question whether there is enough wind here to produce enough electricity to make it worthwhile to build the turbines.
FPL touts the turbines as a source of clean energy to power 1,800 houses without using fossil fuels or creating greenhouse gases.
“I’m pleased the county is looking for outside help as long as it’s competent and independent,” the alliance’s Julie Zahniser said.
Her group has also asked that no county public hearings be held until the fall.
“It’s an important issue and should be heard when people are here,” she said.
FPL had no comment except to say they look forward to a hearing “at the appropriate time.”
Several state agencies also have to review the project before environmental permits are issued.
FPL first planned nine or 10 wind turbines, some on publicly owned property. The power company cut it to six, all on FPL property, after an outcry about the legality and propriety of building turbines on land bought for recreation and conservation use.
By Jim Reeder
7 June 2008
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