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Sunrise Looks at Alternate Energy Source

August 3, 2008

By David A. Schwartz, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Aug. 3–One Sunrise commissioner wants to use the wind that blows through the city to generate electricity at a water-treatment plant and sell the electricity to Florida Power & Light.

“It’s to reduce the cost of the water and help the residents,” Assistant Deputy Mayor Donald Rosen said.

He and Utilities Director Hector Castro want to meet with FPL to explore putting wind turbines in an open area near the city’s Sawgrass water-treatment plant on Northwest Eighth Street in the Sawgrass Corporate Park.

“It would work if [FPL is] willing to go along with it,” Rosen said.

FPL spokeswoman Heather Kirkendall said they are trying to meet with the city.

FPL, which provides electricity to 4.5 million Floridians, wants to build a small wind project along the Atlantic coast near its St. Lucie County power plant, Kirkendall said. The project, which has been stalled by zoning problems, would be the first in Florida for FPL, which is the largest producer of wind energy in the country.

Rosen thinks there is sufficient wind for the project to be worthwhile and wants the company to conduct a wind study at the Sunrise plant.

“The idea is not farfetched,” said Yogi Goswami, professor and co-director of the Clean Energy Research Center at the in Tampa. “But you have to make sure the wind resource is available. If it is not, you have to ask if the project is worth it.”

There are no good maps of consistent wind velocity in Florida, Goswami said.

“That’s what tells you whether a site is good for wind power or not,” he said.

He said there always has been a feeling that Florida has a lot of wind at times, but even in coastal and offshore areas, that may not be true.

Everything depends on a wind assessment, said Christine Real de Azua, spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association in Washington, D.C.

“If you have a constant wind, it makes a lot of sense,” she said.

Real de Azua said small wind systems are practical, and it all depends on how much energy the community wants to produce.

Some cities, she said, have installed large, utility-scale wind turbines to generate power for such things as streetlights.

Rosen’s idea awaits a wind study and a company that is interested.

David A. Schwartz can be reached at dschwartz@

tribune.com.

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