TYPE: Wind Farm
OPPOSITION: St. Lucie Alliance; St. Lucie County Commissioners; Treasure Coast Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
BACKGROUND: In 2007, Florida Power and Light (FPL) sought to approval to build a new coal plant, but in June later that year state regulators rejected the facility. Governor Crist wanted a greener solution. Two days after the rejection of the coal plan, FPL decided to build a small wind farm near the Atlantic coast in St. Lucie County. The Governor was “very pleased” with FPL’s change of plans, but there was vehement opposition. The St. Lucie Alliance was formed to fight the project.
The public opposition was due in part to the preferred site. FPL originally asked for nine proposed turbines to be placed oceanfront on Hutchinson Island, where FPL maintains nuclear reactors. Others would be on nearby public parkland. The use of public parkland made environmentalists and local residents angry. In response to protestors, the FPL reformulated its wind plan to include just six turbines, all on privately owned FPL land. But the environmental and local residents refused to give up. Critics argued the wind farm would disturb St. Lucie residents’ view of the coastline, create noise, disturb endangered species, and “ruin precious resources in Florida for absolutely no benefit.”
Also among the opposition was the Surfrider Foundation, a local coalition of surfers, divers and anglers. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission raised concerns about the possible dangers to sea turtles in the area, suggesting that noise and motion from the turbines, as well as the possibility of light coming from the structures, would impact sea turtles attempting to nest on adjacent beaches. A member of the Indian Riverkeeper organization wanted to compel studies that would address concerns about vibrations from windmills that would potentially disrupt fish spawning. Because of this fierce opposition, Florida Power & Light abandoned its plans to build Florida’s first industrial wind farm — a $61 million dollar project.
SOURCES: TCPalm http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2008/may/28/wind-turbine-skeptics-grill-florida-power-light-of/, http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2008/may/17/save-st-lucie-alliance-targets-palm-beach-02/,
Tree Hugger http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/03/florida-power-light-backs-off-wind-farm.php;
The Cutting Edge http://www.thecuttingedgenews.com/index.php?article=651&pageid=21&pagename=Energy;
St. Lucie Wind Project Information: http://www.stluciewind.com/project_info.shtml
Last updated November 10, 2010