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Vt. wind project is first for Forest Service

The Forest Service has approved the first utility-scale wind project on national forestland inside southwest Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest, in a move that signals the agency's readiness to assume a greater role in renewable energy development.

The Deerfield Wind Project, which has been under review for nearly seven years, was one of 14 infrastructure projects that the White House said in October would be expedited through the permitting and environmental review processes in an effort to create jobs.

Last week, Green Mountain Forest Supervisor Colleen Madrid issued a record of decision greenlighting the project, which will place 15 wind turbines with a combined 30 megawatt capacity along forest ridgelines.

The project would not add a significant amount of electricity to the nation's growing renewables portfolio -- the American Wind Energy Association estimates that the industry added as much as 7,000 megawatts of installed wind-power capacity last year -- but Forest Service officials said it indicates the agency's renewed efforts to take on a greater role in wind development on public land.

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