Monday, July 25, 2005

New Wind Energy Facility would be the first on National Forest Service land in the country.

Article Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 2:15:20 AM EST
Windmills proposed for forest

Staff Writer

READSBORO -- The Deerfield Wind project is back in motion and the U.S. Forest Service is looking for the community's help in identifying issues and concerns related to the proposed development.
EnXco, a French company, hopes to line two ridges in Searsburg and Readsboro with up to 30 turbines, which would serve 14,000 to 16,000 homes.

The proposed wind turbines would be approximately 370 feet tall and require three to four lights on each side of Route 8 to meet FAA regulations.

Citizens have until Aug. 16 to submit comments about what they believe should be the scope of the Forest Service's analysis of Deerfield Wind's proposal.

If the agency approves the application for special use, the new wind energy facility would be the first on National Forest Service land in the country.

But before it is approved, the Forest Service will study the environmental and social impacts of the proposed project. The final environmental impact statement is expected in February 2007.

The proposed installation would use about 80 acres of National Forest land and require about four miles of new road. A substation would also be built, as well as a new maintenance building.

The windmills now in Searsburg are owned by Green Mountain Power. The proposed windmills would be owned by enXco. Sam Bittman, enXco spokesman, said the sites for the new wind facilities are ideal for a couple of reasons.

"We'd be able to use a good deal of existing infrastructure," he said

He also noted the ridges are exposed to strong winds which have been measured for the past two decades.

The public is invited to view presentations and express their thoughts at two public scoping meetings.

"The Forest Service takes public comments very seriously," said Gina Owens, district ranger of the Green Mountain National Forest. "We're committed to an open process in which the public's ideas are heard and considered."

The first meeting is Aug. 3 at the Grand Summit Resort Hotel at Mount Snow in West Dover, the second is Aug. 4 at the Whitingham Elementary School in Jacksonville. Both meetings will be from 7 to 9 p.m.