On Tuesday, January 3, 2012, the U.S. Forest Service approved the construction of a 15-turbine wind energy facility on the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont today, which will provide enough electricity to power about 13,000 homes annually. The completion of this project marks the culmination of an environmental analysis and record of decision for the proposal to construct and operate a commercially viable, utility-scale wind energy facility on the national forest in the towns of Searsburg, and Readsboro next to the Searsburg Wind Facility operated by Green Mountain Power Company on private land. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s selection of this project for expedited review in accordance with the Presidential Memorandum on “Speeding Infrastructure Project Delivery” (August 31, 2011) heightened the priority of this effort, enabling the Forest Service to complete our environmental impact statement and make the decision several weeks earlier than planned.
“This permit will bring more jobs and renewable power to the people of Vermont,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “We also were given a great opportunity to learn valuable lessons for future wind energy facilities on other National Forest lands around the country."
The facility will consist of 15 state-of-the-art 2.0 megawatt turbines that will stand 389 feet tall, from the ground to blade tip. The turbines are expected to produce approximately 92,506 MWh with a nameplate capacity of 30 megawatts.
For projects of this magnitude, the Forest Service is required to conduct a National Environmental Policy Act review process, which includes in-depth analysis, scientific studies, and public participation. The environmental impact statement and record of decision – which address various impacts and public concerns that have been raised -- can be viewed at: http://data.ecosystem-management.org/nepaweb/fs-usda-pop.php?project=7838
The Forest Service is authorized to issue special use permits to individuals and businesses for certain uses and activities. The Agency intends to allow the project to proceed by issuing one special use permit to Deerfield Wind, LLC to use up to 80 acres of National Forest System land. A second special use permit will be issued to Central Vermont Public Service to facilitate the distribution of the power generated by the project over the transmission lines that it currently owns.
A public notice of availability for the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision will appear in the Federal Register in early January. A legal notice announcing the documents and decision will be published shortly after in the Rutland Herald, which is the forest’s official newspaper of record. Once the legal notice has been published, a mandatory 45-day administrative appeal period will begin.