Mon, Jun 17, 2013 - Page 12 News List

Wind turbine troubles

A group of residents in Miaoli County have banded together to halt the construction of wind turbines close to their homes. But corporate interests are getting in the way

By Ketty Chen and J. Michael Cole  /  Contributing reporter and staff reporter

In another press conference in Taipei on May 2, Wang sought to ease concerns about turbine noise and blowing sand. She said that noise would not exceed 2dB at a location 70m away from the turbines, and the low-frequency noise measured from 150m away from a turbine would be 20Hz, “the same level of noise that an air conditioner or a refrigerator produces.”

GETTING NASTY

Last month and earlier this month, the Forestry Bureau and the Water Resource Agency ordered InfraVest to remove fences and road blocks on public roads leading to the beach and to give the residents a seven-day notice before erecting any more fences and resuming construction. After the EIA conference on June 3, the EPA rejected InfraVest’s DEI evaluation to move five wind turbines to Yuanli and pointed to the possibility that the firm manipulated data.

Outraged, Wang said wind power has been demonized in Taiwan. She also blamed DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) for “pressuring” and “influencing” the EPA and the BOE.

Meanwhile, InfraVest filed a NT$10 million (US$335,000) lawsuit against seven members of the Yuanli Self-Help Organization. The company also distributed a pamphlet with information supporting its claim that Chen’s residence and gallery — located 176m from one of the planned wind turbines — are illegal.

The lawsuit prompted 12 civic organizations, including the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Covenants Watch, the Green Party, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance and the Environmental Jurists Association to issue a joint public statement condemning the company for using the law as intimidation.

InfraVest also stepped up security by having dozens of security guards on site at all time, where they trail, film, question and prevent visitors, residents and students from going to the beach and embankment and approaching the construction site. Their behavior is illegal, as they have no law enforcement authority.

Skirmishes involving police and protesters have forced the central government to intervene after police used disproportionate means, and clashes between private security officers and protesters on June 8 have raised serious questions about the professionalism of the hired guards. All of this has contributed to turning a local issue into a matter of national interest.

GREEN ENERGY GONE BAD

As Lin pointed out, government agencies must bear responsibility for approving InfraVest’s proposal to build wind turbines on the west coast, and oversight will have failed in its duties if InfraVest, as the self-help group alleges, in fact manipulate data to obtain the permits.

Taiwan needs a green energy solution. The Yuanli resident’s struggle against big business can serve as a platform to begin discussions on the types of green energy that are most suitable for Taiwan.

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