Progress Energy's tactics are distasteful | editorial, Feb. 24
Energy company seeks public's input
Progress Energy Florida would like to clear up some confusion about our proposed transmission lines and the Brooker Creek Preserve. It is critical for the community to understand the facts about this important project.
Our long-standing commitment is to meet the growing energy needs of Florida residents in a way that minimizes impact on the environment. It is important for residents and friends of Brooker Creek Preserve to know that the company has not and never will propose "clear-cutting a half-mile-wide transmission corridor" through the preserve. We have no half-mile-wide rights of way in our territory.
The company has more than 5,000 miles of transmission lines across our 35-county service territory. In this early stage of the project, maps show corridor areas about 1-mile wide that represent the potential path of a transmission line. The specific transmission routes, which would be much narrower, would be determined at a later date.
The largest right of way Progress Energy Florida would purchase for a new single transmission line is 250 feet wide. In many cases, the company attempts to locate new lines along existing rights of way, often requiring little or no additional land, to minimize impacts. Within the preserve, there is an existing transmission right of way.
Progress Energy Florida has identified the need to add about 200 miles of new transmission lines affecting 10 counties. This project is expected to span up to eight years. To gain public input early in the process, the company initiated an innovative community approach last year that includes participation from key leaders throughout the region, called the Community Partnership for Energy Planning. This involves a cross section of community leaders, including representation from Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay region, such as public officials, businesses, environmentalists, and neighborhoods and economic development agencies, among others.
In Pinellas County, public involvement began last summer. We are committed to seeking broad community input and encouraging public involvement. That's why we're holding public meetings this early in the process, before any corridors are selected. These meetings are not required, but we value the opinion of all interested parties and are committed to a transparent, open process. There have already been a number of meetings, and there will be many more throughout the process.
Let me stress: No decisions have been made. We don't know where the lines will go. We will continue our public outreach process and include this feedback in our analysis. We do have a responsibility to plan to meet growing customer demand.
When decisions are made, potential environmental impact will be a priority. Progress Energy Florida has a track record of being a good environmental steward, and we understand the importance of Brooker Creek Preserve. We are committed to working with communities to minimize our impacts on the environment, homes and businesses.
Mark Wimberly, vice president, Progress Energy Florida's South Coastal region
Stricter cell phone laws are needed
Anyone who has driven the highways and byways of greater Tampa and surrounding areas has most certainly noticed the high number of irritating drivers and the predominant cause of that irritation: talking on their cell phones while attempting to drive.
This epidemic, which is at critical mass, has caused a chain reaction of stupidity. This will only strengthen the resolve of angry motorists who wish nothing more than to see these morons drive off the Howard Frankland Bridge at a high rate of speed while they are attempting to reconnect with their dropped calls.
Florida needs stricter cell phone regulations.
Michael Poznoski, Safety Harbor
Get the homeless off the streets
To all the do-gooders who are trying to solve the homeless problem: Take home a homeless person. Feed them, clothe them, get them a haircut and shave, help them find a job.
Why is it that people will go to animal shelters and adopt a pet and spend thousands on vet bills, yet refuse to take home a homeless person?
I support the vagrant laws, and they need to be enforced. If a vagrant is an alcoholic or drug addict, they need to go to a treatment center. If they have mental problems, they need to be in a supervised group home or institution. If they are a homeless veteran, they need to be under the veterans' health care system.
There is no reason for these "homeless people" to be on the streets.
Jim McColeman, Clearwater