Vermont forest official calls for comprehensive energy plan

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(Host) The supervisor of the Green Mountain National Forest says the nation needs a comprehensive plan for alternative energy.

Speaking on Vermont Edition, Meg Mitchell says debate over a wind energy project in Searsburg and Readsboro shows the need for a plan.

(Mitchell) "I don’t think we have a good sense of where we ought to do different kinds of development, for energy. We’re clear that we want it but we’re not clear of matching up sites to specific proposals. And even in Vermont that may be the piece that’s missing for people is that there’s been a lot of studies done, but where would these things actually go and making tradeoffs between sites."

(Host) Deerfield Wind, a subsidiary of a Spanish company, wants to build 17 turbines on national forest land, but it has run into resistance from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

The agency opposes the plan because of the potential impact on black bears.

The Windham Regional Commission is also party to the proceedings.

Jim Mattau is the Commission’s executive director.

(Mattau) "One of the difficulties we have is that we’re having these debates in the absence of a very strong state energy plan and probably no federal energy plan at all. So every time we go into one of these you’re getting into an administrative food fight over the project. And that can get very expensive and it creates uncertainty."

(Host) A spokesman for Central Vermont Public Service says the state does have a lengthy energy plan.

Steve Costello says that while the state is not responsible for planning where our energy comes from, it does set broad guidelines, oversight and regulatory review of power-planning decisions and that every Vermont utility has a plan to review least-cost energy planning.



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