Guam – Not all is breezy in Mangilao, as several residents within the vicinity of the University of Guam are opposing the idea to install two wind turbines, which they would created negative consequences. As a result, going green apparently has some residents going red as opposition has been raised toward the plan to install the twin turbine towers.
Peter Avilla has lived near Dean’s Circle for all of his life. And after learning about a month ago that a zoning variance request was in the works for the installation of two wind turbines at the Mangilao neighborhood, he wasn’t going to stand for it. He started a petition against the location, telling KUAM News, “We’re not opposed to the idea of sustainability; we’re just opposed to the idea of the location of where those towers are being recommended to be placed in.”
In a phone interview with KUAM News, Avilla says he’s rounded up over 70 signatures since the Guam Land Use Commission held a village meeting earlier this month regarding the request. According to UOG’s Center for Island Sustainability’s energy technician Antonio Endaya, the plan is to install the Beregy 10-kilowatt wind turbine that would sit on a 100′ single pole with propellers 23′ in diameter. A second, the Southwest Power 200, would be mounted on a 70′ tower.
He says the location was picked because it was the most suitable area in terms of wind power, noting, “The benefits would be is we’re lessening the carbon footprint of the university. If we use that, we use less power because we’re using power from the wind.”
The turbines are provided by a $1.5 million State Energy Program Grant from the Guam Energy Office that would also fund streetlights, solar panels and outreach programs. He says if not installed by December, UOG would lose the funding. He is however aware of the concerns ranging from safety, human health, the turbines possibly dominating the landscape, loss of property value and most of all noise. He openly admits that the turbine would generate some sound that is noticeable but not intrusive.
“We are also trying as much as possible minimize the impact of this installation to our community,” he continued. “At the same time, we are also trying to look at different angles or different ways on how to ensure the safety of the community.”
It’s these possible impacts that will go before the GLUC this week where UOG will seek a height variance request. Chairman Jay Lather says this case is a little different, as it’s not just a regular neighbor putting something up that has concern from the residents but a government entity which based off of a statute may carve an exception for UOG. “So that part of the law allows us to have a lower threshold of review than it would in a normal application,” he speculated. “We still need to consider the impact on the neighborhood.”
However, for Avilla, it all comes down to the quality of life for him, his family and his neighbors. “The biggest concern is the quality of life will be impacted, health wise, the constant noise of the windmills turning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – it’s not something that won’t go away,” he stated.
Lather adds it is difficult to predict how the Commission will view the issue due to several factors but believes the residents’ concerns are valid, saying the GLUC may even consider putting some kind of restriction on the temporary installation. The hearing is set for this Thursday at 1:30pm at the GLUC Conference Room at the ITC Building.
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