HAGÅTÑA – To voice their concerns, around 30 Mangilao residents attended the public hearing regarding the University of Guam’s wind turbine project.
According to UOG President Robert Underwood, “they are not pulling out of the project and are contemplating putting the project back on the agenda of the next Guam Land Use Commission meeting in Aug. 9.”
Earlier, a zoning application for height variance was lodged at the Guam Land Use Commission and then taken out of the agenda upon UOG’s request after receiving word about the petition put forward by residents about the project.
The two turbines that will be erected along Dean’s Circle at the university campus consists of a 10kw Bergey Excel with a tower height of 100 ft, and a 1kw Whisper 200 with a tower height of 70 ft.
Phil McCormick, who lives about 300 feet away from the project site, stated residents “are not opposed to the project, only to the proposed location of the wind turbine.”
He also stated his concern about the possible noise disturbance that the wind turbine would create once erected on the proposed site. To make a point, he requested that an audio recording of the Yigo wind turbine be played during the meeting.
UOG-Center for Island Sustainability staff member Antonio Endaya responded to McCormick’s concern by stating the recording was taken less than 100 feet from the Yigo wind turbine.
“Sound is relative to distance,” Endaya said.
McCormick also inquired if, at any point, a new location will be considered for the project.
According to Underwood, the location along Dean’s Circle provides the best unobstructed wind source. He added: “Dean Circle had wind turbines historically, in the ‘80s. That’s where the CIS house is.”
Based on the UOG-CIS presentation, the proposed tower location has been selected based on wind availability and wind quality. The site is the only area on campus with minimal obstruction, therefore it has less turbulence, causing minimal stress imposed on the turbines.
Underwood stated the 1kw wind turbine was supposed to be an educational model and will most likely be erected on the same site. However, “the location of the second tower will be more flexible,” he added.
To allay safety concerns earlier expressed by the residents, UOG-CIS emphasized that these concerns have been addressed by the project.
These measures include making sure an emergency procedure is in place in case of typhoons and earthquakes. In addition, the turbines will be equipped with safety features that would control the speed of the blades and electrical brakes to stop the mechanical operation of the turbine during high winds. Another option being explored is the possibility of using a tilt-down tower.
Aside from safety issues, the residents also expressed concerns on the possible health impact of the proposed wind turbines.
Underwood said: “Health effects are an issue that we are uncertain of at this time. Given what we know now, there are no ill effects based on peer-reviewed research. We’re not contemplating doing an exhaustive review on available literature.”
Explaining the purposes of the project, Underwood added: “We will try to create one tower for educational purposes and one tower for generating power. We will contemplate on the issue of the larger tower. This is not an issue that should force people to comply because there is a deadline.”
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