This week, Lightsource bp, Xcel Energy and EVRAZ North America turned on the 300-MW Bighorn Solar project that will help reduce emissions and support more than 1,000 jobs at EVRAZ’s Pueblo steel mill — the world’s first steel mill to be powered largely by solar energy.
The project is primarily located on 1,800 acres of land on EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel property in Pueblo. It is the largest on-site solar facility in the U.S. dedicated to a single customer, with more than 750,000 solar panels providing nearly all the plant’s annual electricity demand. This will enable the mill to produce some of the world’s greenest steel and steel products.
Agreement details: Lightsource bp financed, owns and operates Bighorn Solar and sells the electricity it generates to Xcel Energy under a 20-year power purchase agreement. As part of that arrangement, EVRAZ will receive clean, renewable power and price certainty from Xcel Energy through 2041. The project will enable Xcel Energy to abate 433,770 metric tons of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of taking 92,100 fuel burning cars off the road each year.
EVRAZ North America is Xcel Energy’s largest retail electric customer in Colorado and one of Pueblo’s largest employers. The deal for fixed-rate power gives EVRAZ the low, predictable electricity prices it needs to stay in Pueblo and invest in its future there, keeping more than 1,000 jobs in the local community.
“This project proves that even hard-to-abate sectors like steel can be decarbonized when companies come together with innovative solutions,” said Kevin Smith, CEO, Lightsource bp, Americas. “Our collaboration with Xcel Energy and EVRAZ North America made Bighorn Solar a reality. It’s a great example of partners tackling complex issues that US industry is facing today, while at the same time preserving jobs in the manufacturing sector.”
The Bighorn Solar project is currently generating electricity into the grid and is expected to come fully online in November 2021.
Skip Herald, CEO, EVRAZ North America: “Like bp and Xcel Energy, EVRAZ is committed to reducing emissions and operating more sustainably. As each new acre of solar panels is installed, we find ourselves closer to our goal of making EVRAZ in Pueblo one of the greenest steel facilities in the world. The journey shows what can happen when like-minded companies come together and work across government and industry to promote cleaner energy, cleaner products and more resilient communities. This is an incredible milestone.”