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Texas Christian University, FPL Energy and the University of Oxford launch groundbreaking research initiative to study impacts of wind energy development in the U.S.

FORT WORTH, Texas (March 19, 2008) - Texas Christian University (TCU), FPL Energy, LLC, a subsidiary of FPL Group, Inc. (NYSE: FPL) and the nation's largest wind and solar energy producer, and Oxford University announced today the formation of a groundbreaking partnership and research initiative to better understand the ecological and socio-economic impacts of wind power development. 

The five-year research initiative includes three primary focus areas, including wind turbine impact on birds and bats; wind turbine ecological impacts; and socio-economic impacts of wind projects. 

  • The avian and bat impact assessment is expected to produce a better understanding of the interactions between birds and bats and wind turbines. This research effort will focus on developing and testing statistically robust protocols for pre and post-construction monitoring of avian and bat movement and mortality. 
  • The ecological and climate research team will conduct a carbon analysis to assess the extent to which wind energy reduces atmospheric carbon that would otherwise be emitted as electricity is generated from fossil fuels. This research effort will also focus on ecological impacts of wind farms such as habitat fragmentation, local species movement, and regional land-based migration.
  • Both direct and indirect socio-economic impacts of wind projects will be analyzed on a local and regional basis. Measurements will include land use revenue, taxes, and employment. This study also will explore the impacts on local culture and customs, including a viewshed analysis to assess the aesthetic impact of wind projects. When key aesthetic factors are understood, researchers will suggest ways to minimize the appearance of wind turbines.

The research will be coordinated by TCU’s Institute for Environmental Studies (IES) and Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute (ECI), a world leader in analysis of lower carbon futures and climate change and includes subject matter experts from a variety of different disciplines. The five-year research effort will be funded by FPL Energy. All of the field research necessary for the project will be conducted at FPL Energy’s wind farm locations across the U.S. 

Dr. Mike Slattery, director of IES and professor of Environmental Science at TCU, said, “The strength of our institute, which involves people from a number of schools and departments, is that our research is directed toward interdisciplinary and integrative approaches to solving problems of the environment. Our goal is to play a leading role in supplying the science base for what will be a major area of societal concern in this century, namely providing both energy and environmental security. This initiative with FPL Energy allows us to put Texas at the forefront of such research.”   

“FPL Energy is a world leader in harnessing the power of the wind to generate emission-free electricity,” said Mitch Davidson, president of FPL Energy. “As the need for power increases across the U.S. and the climate change debate intensifies, we believe now is the right time for a comprehensive research program to study the real environmental impacts and benefits of wind power. Although wind power cannot meet all of the energy needs of this country, we believe it can and should play a greater role than it does today.”  

“ECI has more than a decade of experience in understanding the role of renewable energy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and has drawn useful lessons from European carbon markets and policies,” said Professor Diana Liverman, director of Oxford’s ECI. ECI is a partner in the newly established Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment focused on private sector solutions to environmental problems, an approach that this partnership with FPL Energy embodies.”  

In addition to expertise in ecosystem health, TCU is home to the Energy Institute, which promotes cutting-edge knowledge about the energy industry and energy-related technology, with a focus on renewable energy.  The Energy Institute integrates the College of the Science and Engineering with the Neeley School of Business, ranked 32nd among undergraduate business schools by BusinessWeek

The research partners hope the information generated from this research effort will be used to shape responsible future development of wind generation and transmission of energy. For wind energy to play a major role in mitigating climate change careful science based strategic planning is needed to maximize environmental benefits. This research effort will provide specific guidelines for Texas but also more general guidelines for renewable energy development in a carbon constrained world.

About TCU

TCU is a private teaching and research institute located in Fort Worth, Texas. Its Institute of Environmental Sciences consists of a consortium of faculty with international expertise in science, law and management. Institute faculty uses an interdisciplinary approach to research, teaching and outreach to facilitate environmental solutions and provide the science base for global and environmental security.

About FPL Energy

FPL Energy is a competitive energy supplier utilizing clean fuels such as natural gas, wind, solar, hydro and nuclear to generate electricity. It is the nation’s leader in wind energy, with 56 projects currently in operation in 16 states. It is a subsidiary of FPL Group, one of the nation's largest providers of electricity-related services with annual revenues of more than $15 billion. FPL Group's rate-regulated subsidiary is Florida Power & Light Company, one of the nation's largest electric utilities, serving 4.5 million customer accounts in Florida. Additional information is available on the Internet at www.FPLEnergy.com,www.FPLGroup.com and www.FPL.com.

About Oxford University

The Environmental Change Institute (ECI www.eci.ox.ac.uk) at Oxford University brings together research and teaching expertise on energy, climate and ecosystems, and through the Lower Carbon Futures team has a major focus on renewable energy, energy policy and carbon emissions.  ECI is a core partner in the UK Energy Research Centre and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change and hosts the UK Climate Impacts Programme. ECI is contributing to the new Smith School for Enterprise and Environment at Oxford University, directed by Sir David King, which focuses on private sector solutions to environmental problems.  Oxford University is the oldest university in the English speaking world and is regularly ranked among the worlds leading research and teaching institutions.