Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JEA Takes Feedback on Plans Baldwin Power Plant Unwanted by Residents

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JEA Takes Feedback on Plans Baldwin Power Plant Unwanted by Residents

Article excerpt

Residents who live near a $200 million power plant that JEA is building northeast of Baldwin say they fear it will disrupt their tranquil lifestyle and drive away wildlife.

"We've got a very good way of life, and I don't want to see what happened in Mandarin happen here," said Jim Blanchard, who lives less than a mile from the site, which borders the Westside and Northside.

Blanchard and others expressed their concerns at a public meeting sponsored by JEA Thursday night at Baldwin Middle-Senior High School. About 25 attended the meeting.

They asked about noise, safety, pollution, site selection and proximity to the Jacksonville-to-Baldwin Rail Trail, a 14.5-mile recreational trail being built along an abandoned railroad track.

Leigh Rassler, JEA's community outreach program coordinator, told residents JEA wanted to hear their concerns and was open to their ideas.

JEA, Jacksonville's public utility, hopes to expedite the permitting process to begin construction on the plant this fall. The Brandy Branch Generating Station is set to open in 2001 to meet electricity demands resulting from Duval County's growth.

The plant will operate during peak hours, which are primarily the hottest and coldest days of the year. When not needed, the plant will be shut down.

Susan Hughes, JEA's environmental manager, said several sites were evaluated, including Cecil Field. Brandy Branch, a 150-acre tract of woods, pastures and wetlands a mile northeast of Baldwin off U.S. 90, was chosen because JEA already owns it. In addition, the location is easily connected to existing transmission and distribution lines.

Brandy Branch will house three combustion turbine generators primarily fueled by natural gas. Blanchard and others wanted to know how far away the noise could be heard.

From a mile out, it will be 40 to 45 decibels, which will sound like soft stereo music, Hughes said.

"When the units kick on, there will be a distant rumble like a dishwasher would sound," Rassler added. "It would be nowhere near the type of noise you hear when jets fly over. You may not even notice it. …

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