SEARSBURG – Opponents of a plan to build a 15-turbine, wind-power project in the Green Mountain National Forest in southern Vermont say they are going to appeal a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to approve the project.
The project planned for 80 acres of land in Searsburg and Readsboro that could produce enough power for about 30,000 homes had been placed on a federal list of 14 infrastructure projects around the country to be given expedited environmental reviews and permitting.
The new turbines would be 410 feet tall, or twice the height of towers at an existing adjacent wind farm, and would require aircraft safety lighting. The project would be built by Deerfield Wind, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables.
But the project, which was approved in 2009 by the Vermont Public Board, is being opposed by some.
Annette Smith, of the group Vermonters for a Clean Environment, said the lights on top of the towers will be visible from the 5,000 acre George D. Aiken Wilderness, a few miles away.
From “more than half the area inside the wilderness you will be able to see the wind turbines, with their blinking lights… and this is totally contrary to everything that the wilderness plan calls for,” she said.
Vermont Public Radio said the project has also drawn concern from biologists and wildlife advocates, who worry about the removal of beech groves used by black bears as a food source.
The developer is required to set aside 144 acres of comparable bear habitat and to continue surveying the impact of the project on bear, bat and bird populations.
Opponents have 45 days to appeal the Forest Service’s decision once legal notices are published.
Smith said her group will appeal and that she expects others to do the same.
It’s unclear when construction could begin.
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