Wind testing tower approved for western Martin County
By George Andreassi
STUART — Construction on a 197-foot-high wind testing tower is expected to start in about a month on an old citrus grove in Western Martin County to determine whether it would be a good location for energy generating wind turbines.
The Martin County Commission gave World Wide Wind Development of Miami Beach permission on Tuesday to set up the wind-measuring tower on an acre of land on the Caulkins Grove north of Citrus Boulevard and east of Indiantown.
“I’m encouraged that some local landowners and private partnerships are looking to move us toward where everybody is hoping we’ll get to, which is sustainable energy,” said Commissioner Patrick Hayes. “I’m happy to see this go forward.”
The next step is to obtain a building permit and set up the meteorological mast and the guy wires that will support it, said Sheryl Blasi, a project manager for World Wide Wind Development of Miami Beach.
Wind measurement devices on the tower will take readings of the speed and direction of the wind every day for a year to determine whether the property is a good site for 300-foot high wind turbines.
The tests can determine the suitability of the wind within a 20-mile radius, Blasi said. The study will remain valid for 20 years.
“At this point, we’re not proposing any other kind of project,” Blasi said. “It’s not that we don’t expect to do anything, it’s just at this point, we don’t have any kind of staff plans to develop a wind farm anywhere specifically.”
“We do poke around for different areas,” Blasi said. “We would like a wind test in each county so we can get our numbers straight for each area.”
The Caulkins Citrus property owner volunteered his land for the tests, Blasi said. It seemed like an ideal site because it’s far away from residential neighborhoods.
“If there was to be a wind generation project in the future, that could be ideal,” Blasi said. “We don’t know.”
The wind would need to be about 5 mph for the site to be viable for a wind turbine farm, Blasi said. If a wind farm is built, it would sell energy to FPL.
The commissioners also asked Growth Management Director Nicki van Vonno to draw up Land Development Regulations establishing standards for the construction of power generating wind turbines in case the tests prove successful.