In National Precedent, Industrial Wind Turbines Planned in Tourist Mecca, Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont
Searsburg, VT – In what could be a national precedent, the Vermont Public Service Board is reviewing a plan to build 17 industrial wind turbines on more than 80 acres of the Green Mountain National Forest. Known as Deerfield Wind, the turbine project would be located along a prominent ridgeline in the towns of Searsburg and Readsboro, Vermont.
Deerfield Wind would be the first industrial wind-energy facility in a national forest anywhere in the country, and it could be the first of many in the Green Mountain National Forest. The Green Mountain National Forest is one of only two national forests in New England. The U.S. Forest Service has designated nearly 20,000 acres at 37 sites within the Green Mountain National Forest as “potentially both viable and suitable” for wind power development. Recently, a proposal for a second industrial wind-energy facility within the Green Mountain National Forest was initiated.
The industrial wind turbines proposed in the Green Mountain National Forest will be 410 feet tall, or the equivalent of 41-story skyscrapers. They will require five miles of access roads cut through the forest, up to 38 feet wide not including sideline clearing (which would make them wider than any other town road), corridors for transmission lines, an electric substation, and constantly flashing warning lights. The largest bear habitat in Vermont will be irreparably harmed. The area will be closed for recreation by hikers, snowmobilers, and hunters. In the 1990s, the Sierra Club and other organizations sued the U.S. Forest Service successfully to prevent logging in part of the remote area now being considered for this industrial wind-energy facility.
“Vermont already gets most of its electricity from clean energy sources. We don’t need these wind turbines at the expense of our state’s wilderness,” said Gerry DeGray, president of Save Vermont Ridgelines. “Tourists come to Vermont to admire our spectacular mountains, our beautiful unbroken ridgelines, our black night skies, not industrial structures littering the landscape,” he added.
Save Vermont Ridgelines is a group formed by local residents to fight construction of industrial wind turbines in the national forest. The company planning to build the turbines is PPM Energy, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, and one of the largest wind developers in the country.
“We think PPM targeted this area because we’re a small, struggling community, and they figured we couldn’t muster the resources to fight back,” explained Jeanette Lee, a board member of Save Vermont Ridgelines. “Why should we accept these massive wind turbines in our national forest so that people elsewhere can feel virtuous about supporting wind power?”
Save Vermont Ridgelines is an intervener in the Vermont Public Service Board review of PPM Energy’s Deerfield Wind proposal. Interveners in favor of the industrialization of the national forest are the Conservation Law Foundation and Vermont Public Interest Research Group. A decision by the state agency is expected later this year.
If the Vermont Public Service Board approves Deerfield Wind, the U.S. Forest Service will then review the proposal for development in the Green Mountain National Forest.
Save Vermont Ridgelines’s website is www.clearskyvt.org.
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