Solar company needs to build transmission line under Black River for Rutland project

Apr. 25—WATERTOWN — A Massachusetts renewable energy company that plans to build a 125-megawatt solar farm in Rutland is willing to pay the city up to $450,000 for its easement rights under the Black River.

New Leaf Energy needs to bore a transmission line underneath the Black River in order to construct the 520-acre solar project. The city owns the area underneath the river.

Three New Leaf Energy company officials attended a council work session Tuesday night to discuss the proposal.

The company could go over the Black River or in the water, but would prefer to go underneath it to connect with a substation on the other side of river, near the village of Black River line, they said.

They need the transmission line to get the solar power to the substation, City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said. "This is crucial," Mr. Mix said.

The company wants the city to act quickly on the easement proposal because it needs approval from the state legislature and the current session of lawmakers ends in June, Mr. Mix said.

The city and company's attorneys are working on the agreement, he said.

The city would receive payments from the company as it fulfills thresholds during the project, Mr. Mix said.

The Rutland Center Solar Project would be built along Route 126 and Route 12, straddling the town lines of Rutland and Watertown.

One of the biggest solar projects proposed in the north country, the solar array was originally proposed about a year ago by Borrego Energy, a San Diego renewable energy company.

About two months after having an open house in the town of Watertown Fire Department to talk about the project, last April, Energy Capital Partners, New Leaf's parent company, purchased Borrego's development arm in July 2022 to establish New Leaf as an independent company.

It wasn't clear Tuesday night how far along the company's plans are or whether it has started the application process with the state.