Coral Gables

Coral Gables

Dozens show up at Coral Gables meeting to oppose FPL lines

About 175 Miami-Dade residents attended a town hall meeting in Coral Gables Monday to express their opposition to Florida Power and Light’s proposed plan to erect power lines along U.S. 1.

Residents said if they must be built, they should be placed underground at FPL’s expense.

Who would foot the bill for the underground burial remains a point of contention.

Gov. Rick Scott and his Cabinet are expected to have a decision next week on whether they will allow the 80-to-100-foot-tall power lines to be built from the nuclear power plant at Turkey Point northward. The proposed routes have rankled many Miami-Dade residents who don’t want the power lines running through their backyards. A contingent of officials from cities along U.S. 1 are traveling to Tallahassee this week and next to make their cases.

State Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, hosted Monday’s town hall meeting at the Coral Gables Museum. He opened the forum by saying he feels FPL should bear the cost of putting the lines underground, but he insisted next week’s decision is too hasty because the administrative law judge who recommended the route up U.S. 1 did not consider all the relevant information, like other alternative routes or local planning and zoning codes.

“What we’d like to see is a deferral, at least,” he said.

No one from FPL attended, but one resident who works for the utility spoke in support of the lines.

“U.S. 1 is a reasonable place to put infrastructure,” said Ada Bill, a Coral Gables resident. “We should own our own necessary infrastructure.”

About 20 other speakers strongly opposed above-ground power lines, and many spoke against the Turkey Point nuclear plant.

Nati Soto-Goldstein, of Coral Gables, said the plan to run the power lines up U.S. 1 could hurt development along the major transit corridor.

“Who’s going to reimburse the property owners along U.S. 1 for their loss in property values?” she said.

FPL has maintained that the lines are necessary to facilitate a future expansion of Turkey Point.

Monday night, several residents opposed the nuclear plant altogether.

“You have to stop this plant,” said Jonathan Allman, member of the local Sierra Club.

Gray Read, wife of South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, said she and her husband think power companies should consider alternative forms of energy.

“No to the power lines. No to the nuclear plant – probably the most expensive, insane way you can imagine to generate power on a windswept coast,” she said.

Former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre shared a political perspective, telling the audience to reach out to powerful friends and acquaintances who have influence in Tallahassee to steer the governor’s decision.

“If you know Bobby Martinez, if you know Jeb Bush ... these are the people that you have to get to,” he said.

Organizers encouraged residents who wish to share their view with the governor’s cabinet affairs office to call 850-717-9239.

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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