Thursday, June 18, 2009

Critics take aim at FPL natural gas pipeline during open house in Indiantown

By Alex Tiegen
Monday, April 27, 2009

INDIANTOWN — Critics Monday night expressed disapproval for a proposed 300-mile natural gas pipeline as representatives of Florida Power & Light presented the project at an open house.

FPL’s open house at the Indiantown Civic Cneter was the third in a week. The pipeline will go from the Martin Plant in Indiantown to Bradford County, where it will receive natural gas from deposits out of state.

The $1.5 billion pipeline project is intended to increase the natural gas supply to FPL plants in Cape Canaveral and Riviera Beach and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the two locations. The project must be approved by the state Public Services Commission before it can begin.

FPL employees showed guests maps of the new project, an example of the pipe to be used and information about the economic and environmental impact of the project. Another display indicated how many of the 7,500 jobs, 3,500 of which are in construction, will be located in each county and how much tax revenue the project could generate in each county in 40 years. Treasure Coast counties could receive $102 million in property taxes from FPL over the period.

Ed Luscinskas, a Stuart resident, said he was glad FPL was investing in clean-burning natural gas, although he also believes in investing in alternative energy sources.

“This is a good step in the right direction,” Luscinskas said.

Across the center’s parking lot, a small group of environmental advocates that included members of the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition and Everglades Earth First waited with a sign reading Florida’s Pollution Legacy (FPL) and a ream of flyers claiming the state’s largest utility is using the allure of jobs to draw support for projects that will increase pollution.

The flyers stated the 1,100 jobs offered as part of FPL’s Solar Power Plant, slated to start construction next year in Martin County, and the solar energy project were just marketing strategies for “power-hungry executives.”

And the natural gas pipeline?

“FPL’s creating a regional dependence on natural gas, which is going to be depleted pretty soon,” said Peter Shultz, a Hobe Sound resident and member of Everglades Earth First.

Shultz said money should instead be invested in renewable energy instead of gas.

Jackie Anderson, a spokeswoman for FPL, refuted the group’s claims. She said the company needs to diversify its investment in energy sources because there was no single silver bullet to preventing energy waste. The group protesting the project could be using its efforts on other issues, she said.

“We just feel that their claims are baseless,” she said.


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