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Commission OKs height variance for wind turbine

The Guam Land Use Commission yesterday approved a height variance for the Guam Power Authority’s Wind Turbine Tower project in Yona.

Commissioners approved the variance for the 233-foot-tall wind turbine after talking about the amount of land involved in the project, noise, and how it would affect surrounding areas.

Guam Power Authority project engineer Lorraine Shinohara said noise will not be an issue for surrounding residents.

Quiet hum

“At 500 feet, it has been compared to the humming of a refrigerator,” Shinohara said. The nearest residents are located more than 2,000 feet from the Wind Turbine Tower location, she said.

“You can only imagine what it would sound like from there,” she added.

Ultimately, commissioners said they were in full support of the $1.5 million federally funded project.

The 275-kilowatt wind turbine will be used by the power agency to gather information about the feasibility of future wind energy projects on the island. It also could be used as a teaching tool for college students. The energy it produces – enough for 25 homes – will be fed into the power grid.

“It’s good we are looking into renewable energy,” Guam Land Use Commission Chairman Lawrence Rivera said.

Some conditions

Commissioners approved the variance, with stipulations, including the construction of a fence around the tower. The power agency also must submit data collected from the turbine every six months and provide a map and description of the land that will be used.

Commissioners said that information could be used during future decisions about zone changes for windmill projects.

“This is a step forward for renewable energy. … The Commission itself as a group supports that and any future renewable energy project. I think it’s about time we look for renewable energy other than oil,” Rivera said.

Guam Power Authority spokesman Art Perez said with the Guam Land Use Commission’s approval the agency will be moving forward with the project. The installation of the turbine will take eight months once it begins.