RUTLAND–A Boston solar developer is putting down roots in Rutland, adding to Green Mountain Power’s Solar Capital initiative and the increasing occupancy rate of Downtown Rutland.
NextSun Energy, which began developing solar in Massachusetts in 2010 and has built four projects in Vermont in recent months, including two major projects in the City of Rutland, has opened an office downtown. The company signed a lease for space at 101 Merchants Row, the former Chittenden Bank building, and President Jake Laskin said he is now gearing up for a larger presence in the region.
“We are thrilled to be in Rutland and with the reception we’ve received,” Laskin said. “We’ve found the community to be supportive and collaborative, and we look forward to growing in Vermont, with Rutland as our launch pad. We hope to grow and add jobs here.”
NextSun is contributing significantly to the GMP-Rutland collaboration to make the city the “Solar Capital of New England,” with the highest per-capita solar capacity of any city in the region. The company recently completed projects on long-fallow land off North Main Street and at the end of Park Street, totaling 4.4 megawatts of solar.
“We have a lot more projects in development and are using the Rutland office as an operations center for ongoing operations and maintenance,” Laskin said. “We are looking at 10 projects in development for our Vermont pipeline this year, and are looking forward to further collaboration with GMP, the city and other communities.”
GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said NextSun has proven to be an excellent partner. “NextSun managed the Rutland projects exactly how they should be managed, working with neighbors, GMP and the city to ensure the projects were well planned and well built,” Powell said. “As they grow in Rutland, the benefits in jobs, taxes and increased reliance on locally produced energy will grow right along with them.”
Mayor Chris Louras said NextSun was the fourth new solar business to set up shop in response to the solar capital initiative, and the sixth within city limits. “My hope and expectation is that like the others, NextSun will quickly become a solid member of the community and will continue to add to the revitalization of Rutland,” Louras said.
GMP Vice President Steve Costello said NextSun is the kind of company GMP hoped to attract when it began efforts aimed at solar-business recruitment.
“It’s got a strong environmental ethic and commitment to collaboration that matches our own,” Costello said. “As it did on the two projects in Rutland, NextSun is committed to working with host communities on siting to ensure the best possible fit and benefits.”
Mike Coppinger, executive director of the Downtown Rutland Partnership, said thanks in part to the solar initiative, ground-floor occupancy in downtown buildings is at a 15-year high, hovering at 95 percent. “Every spot we can fill increases the desirability of second-floor office spaces,” Coppinger said. “The arrival of NextSun and other solar companies are helping make the idea of filling our upper floors a reasonable goal for the first time in a couple of generations.”