SPRING VALLEY LAKE – Reaction from residents on a presentation of Victor Valley College’s planned wind turbine project was overwhelmingly negative – though several concerns seemed to be based on misinformation.
College President Robert Silverman discussed the project and fielded questions from residents during the Spring Valley Lake Association meeting Tuesday night.
The main concern that Silverman was admittedly unable to refute was the visual impact of the project. He showed computer-generated images of where the windmill will be and what it will look like from different locations. According to the pictures, residents with homes on the east side of the Mojave River would have the clearest view of the project. Residents along the golf course would view only the top of the windmill.
“These huge machines are normally constructed in relative wilderness, not in the middle of residential or commercial zones,” said SVL property owner Leroy Lambert. “The machine will be a 41-story structure that will offend in any view from miles in any direction. We are in enough trouble with our property values as it is.”
The main concern from residents was over the noise the turbine may generate. Several people cited examples of turbines in other locations that get loud as the blades speed up in windy weather.
Silverman assured them that the windmills they are referring to are older, smaller models than what will be installed at the campus.
“It’s silent because it goes slow,” Silverman said, “and it’s slow because it’s so big.”
One resident asked if there could be a guarantee that the college would either make necessary changes or take the windmill down if it proved to be noisy.
Silverman said that can be discussed.
Several residents also expressed concern that allowing this windmill would set a precedent.
“Once they start making a buck,” one resident said, “more will come.”
Silverman said he sees no reason in the foreseeable future for more than one windmill at the campus. He explained that the main purpose is to train students, and that one windmill will satisfy that need.
Some residents dismissed these educational motivations, picturing students strapped to a harness and working hundreds of feet in the air to work on the windmill.
But Silverman explained the education would take place mainly inside classrooms, where students would use computer programs to monitor the power generated by the windmill and direct how that energy moves from one place to another.
Plans for the project will be presented to the college board for approval soon. In the meantime, Silverman said he welcomes feedback and will continue to answer residents’ questions as they come up.
“We are committed to the project,” Silverman said, “but we are also committed to being a good neighbor.”
27 February 2008
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