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St. Lucie County wants its own independent turbine study

FORT PIERCE – County officials are pushing forward to find an independent consultant to review Florida Power & Light Co.’s environmental impact study on wind turbines and expect to have a proposal in hand by the end of next week, said County Administrator Doug Anderson.

The county has a contract with Taylor Engineering Inc. of Jacksonville. Anderson said Taylor Engineering would contract with consultants who can review FPL’s studies on its wind turbine project and can provide the county with its own expert view on wind turbines. County officials estimate the independent review could take up to three months to complete. Once the consultant’s findings are complete, FPL’s proposal would go to a public hearing.

Taylor Engineering is talking with several different companies from as far away as Alaska, Anderson said.

FPL is proposing to put six wind turbines on company-owned property near the St. Lucie Power Plant. The project is expected to generate nearly 22 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, or enough power for about 3,600 people. But the project might affect several threatened species of wildlife, including nesting sea turtles, according to an analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Kevin Stinnette, the former Indian Riverkeeper, said he appreciates the diligent efforts on the county’s part, but he is leery of an independent review of FPL’s studies that will take only months to conduct. He said environmental impact studies take years, and there hasn’t been enough time for FPL to come up with sufficient data on the impacts the project might have on various species, especially nesting sea turtles.

“If people just standing around (nesting turtles) watching them are going to hurt them, what about a 400-foot swirling machine? ”

FPL officials have said the turbines would be placed away from beaches, and the company would likely use non-white lighting to minimize disturbances to turtle nesting.

FPL officials have said that for every 10,000 bird deaths in the United States caused by human activity, less than one is caused by a wind turbine.

By Alexi Howk


18 July 2008