RUTLAND, Vt. — The city of Rutland is assuming the mantle as the “solar capital of New England.”

Officials with Green Mountain Power, Vermont’s biggest utility, have been working for years to change the way the city of 16,500 produces and uses electricity.

They announced the new designation Tuesday, saying a survey they conducted found that the city produces more electricity per capita from the sun than any other in New England. It follows the recent completion of the 2.5-megawatt Stafford Hill solar project atop an old landfill near the high school.

The 7,722 solar panels brought the city’s total solar-power capacity to just under 7.8 megawatts. There are 51 homes, businesses and other projects currently generating clean energy in the city.

The energy produced is enough to provide 1,600 average homes with electricity for a year.
“Ideally we want to stay ahead and we want to stay ahead through innovation,” GMP President Mary Powell said outside a home covered with solar panels. “We want to stay ahead by thinking about how do we continue to work collaboratively to push solar.”

Vermont has seen a surge in solar power in the last few years as the state works to increase its reliance on renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind. In some communities, proposals for solar arrays have been met with strong opposition for reasons including costs and aesthetics.