Meeting of the Minds: Part 4

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Will the city of Tallahassee move forward as the fourth partner in the North Florida Power Project? That's the question that will be put to the citizens of Tallahassee in a referendum sometime in the fall, but in the meantime, what are the people saying? What do the people want?

A coal burning power plant is coming to north Florida. Taylor County commissioners say they want the plant and the jobs in their county.

Daryll Gunter, Taylor County Commission Chair, says, "Nothing is in stone yet. We're still listening. We're trying to hear everything that can be said. The commission is fully committed to work with the power group and try to get them in Taylor County; we're looking forward to the process, moving forward."

But there are people who don't want to see it in Taylor County or anywhere else in north Florida.

Shantora Stallworth says, "I would think for environmental reasons it would be better to use what are already using now if coal is going to damage our environment."

Edwina Stephens adds, "I think we should say no because of the health issues. The health issue is the top issue. Secondly, I think that we can do other methods of power."

We know that a coal plant is going to be built somewhere in north Florida, but what’s it like to live next to a coal plant?

Dr. Robbie Smith, who lives next to a Jacksonville coal plant, says, "Well, actually we are very good neighbors with JEA. We share a fence line with them. Where we're at, it's clean and quiet."

It might be hard to believe but Dr. Robbie Smith and her husband run a boys home located right next to a JEA coal plant in Jacksonville, located in the middle of a wetland.

JEA, one of the partners in the North Florida Power Project, say this plant is similar to what they want to build in north Florida.

The neighbors here say they love it and wouldn't consider moving.

Dr. Douglas Smith says, "As far as clean goes, it's a lot cleaner that other plants I've seen. Since they put the coal plant in, it's been even cleaner, quiet, cheap. Great neighbors."

People in Tallahassee won't have any say where a coal plant similar to this one will be built in north Florida, but they will decide if the city is involved with it at all.

No date has been set as to when the referendum will be put to the voters. The first draft should be given to the commission in late August.