McCarthy Building Companies has completed the construction and commissioning of the 300 MW Bighorn Solar project in Pueblo, Colo. It is the first of two large-scale solar projects being built in the area by the company’s Renewable Energy & Storage Group in conjunction with Lightsource bp, the project owner.
On 1,800 acres of land on the property of EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel, Bighorn is the nation’s largest on-site solar facility dedicated to a single customer and the nation’s first solar steel mill. With the completion of this project, EVRAZ will have access to predictable and cost-effective electricity rates, allowing the mill, with its 1,000 local workers, to thrive in Pueblo.
Setting it apart from other similar solar projects, Lightsource bp has emphasized enhancing biodiversity at Bighorn. Before construction began, McCarthy and Lightsource bp designed a site-specific seed mix, suited to the local climate, ecosystem and soil. The mix contains staple short grasses like western wheatgrass, buffalo grass and little bluestem, as well as a low concentration of purple prairie clover to provide nectar for pollinating insects to help proactively conserve the habitat of the site over the life of the project.
“The Bighorn Solar project was amazing from start to finish,” said Justin Peterson, vice president of operations for McCarthy’s Colorado office. “Not only were we able to help deliver reliable clean energy in support of Colorado’s push to renewables but we also brought in hundreds of new jobs – career-starters, really – to the area. Layer all of that with the commitment to minimize the disturbance to the area’s important grassland ecosystem and what results is a win-win-win for the community as a whole.”
McCarthy and Lightsource bp will continue their collaboration as they team to build utility-scale solar at the Sun Mountain Solar project currently underway in Pueblo. Situated on more than 1,700 acres of land, Sun Mountain is set to be among the largest solar projects to date in Colorado.
“We’re committed to being a long-term partner and continuing to advance Colorado’s clean energy economy,” said Stephen Barnes, senior vice president, project management & construction for Lightsource bp. “The Bighorn Solar project along with Sun Mountain brings Lightsource bp’s current investment to over a half billion dollars in building infrastructure to diversify the Colorado electricity supply with clean and secure energy. With our large pipeline of solar projects in the region, and across America, this is just the beginning.”
McCarthy’s Renewable Energy & Storage group is currently constructing or has completed nearly 70 utility-scale clean energy projects in communities across the country since 2010, delivering a combined capacity of more than 6.6 GW of clean energy production and over 340 MW/770MWh of energy storage. Nationally, McCarthy provides EPC services on utility-scale solar projects for private solar developers and utilities, helping them deliver cost-effective clean energy to the communities they serve.
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