ST LUCIE COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - Florida's public service commission has denied, for now, Florida Power & Light's request for a new underground, $100 billion natural gas pipeline in Florida.
UPDATE, MON 10 PM: The 280-mile pipeline would have gone from Palm Beach County through the Treasure Coast and connect with a natural gas pipeline in the southern states.
The state determined FPL did not prove that its 'energy-secure pipeline' is the most cost-effective alternative and is in the best interest of Florida's ratepayers.
PREVIOUSLY: Miles upon miles of natural gas pipelines could soon be built underground throughout South Florida. Florida Power and Light says the project will create jobs, bring in revenue, and make their plants greener.
Mark Tyson knew when he built his home and tree farm, Florida Power and Light had the right to his land under the powerlines. So, when he heard FPL's plan to dig a 300 mile long, $1.5 billion natural gas pipeline, he understood, "It's not really a big deal."
But, he does have a business, 3,500 trees on that property and some could be destroyed. "Hopefully, they will be fair for compensation for the damage of the trees."
Many other land owners in western St. Lucie County worry, too. FPL says more than 90 percent of their pipeline will be built underground on land they already have rights to. Very few property owners will be bothered.
Sharon Bennett with FPL says, "It's going to be a minimal number of trees damaged. We will re-vegetate the land as much as we possibly can."
The idea behind the project: Get natural gas to their power plants, eliminate the use of oil, and provide a cleaner environment. Construction means 7,500 jobs, millions in local tax revenue, and you could eventually see a cheaper electric bill. "This will be a good thing. Money and jobs to each county it touches."
Right now, Tyson and others still have questions, but FPL is trying to re-assure everyone that their goal is not to damage property but rather to clean-up our environment.
Some counties not sure about this and have a lot of questions and fears about digging near protected vegetation. Tuesday, a state commission will vote 'yes' or 'no' on this project. If they approve it, FPL will move ahead with the needed permits. Construction could start in 2012 and run through 2014.