ST. LUCIE COUNTY – Florida Power & Light can build meteorological towers to test wind speeds in western St. Lucie County.
So can anyone else choosing to do so as long as the towers are not more than 262 feet high and meet other standards set by the county. Whether the winds justify the creation of turbines will be a topic for another day.
Commissioners gave final approval to allow towers on agricultural land Tuesday in a 5-0 vote. FPL has not selected sites for the towers. The company plans to build one or two to test wind speeds.
FPL officials have said they could collect data within 12 to 18 months from the time the towers are built.
The towers will be set back 300 feet from all property lines, painted neutrally to conform with the local environment and have a footprint not to exceed 500 square feet, enclosed in a 6-foot fence.
FPL still wants to put six wind turbines on Hutchinson Island near the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant. But the company and county are stuck in a holding pattern after the county asked FPL to pay for data from an independent third party. The towers’ vote Tuesday, however, was not connected to the wind turbines.
Resident Peter Degen provided commissioners data that showed a lack of wind speed in the county. He said the data from the towers should be made available to the public. Though the vote did not specifically pertain to FPL, County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky said he would like the see the data should FPL decide to come back with a turbine proposal.
“If the data is going to be used, come back to us at a future date. I think it does become relevant,” Dzadovsky said.
County staff recommended approving the towers. According to the staff report, the towers would not create noise or create fumes and would be relatively small compared to the turbines. The planning and zoning board unanimously recommended approval with a 7-0 vote at the March 17 meeting. Any structures must be taken down within three years.
In 2009, the county adopted a policy containing goals, strategies and actions to create a sustainable economy. The policy includes a section on renewable sources of energy, and FPL’s plan follows that code, according to the staff report.
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