Utility-scale solar roundup: PV-powered steel from Lightsource, Savion in Ohio and Michigan


Dean Solon, CEO of Shoals in a recent pv magazine interview: “A lot of people thought that the 100 MW fields were all dead, but those suckers are coming back with a vengeance. We are seeing lots of 220 MW, 250 MW, 500 MW, 750 MW projects – we are even seeing two 1 GW-plus sites taking shape.”

And with that introduction, here’s this week’s digest of big solar project news:

PV-powered steel from 300-MW of solar

A crucial and historical steel mill in Pueblo, Colorado will be the first in North America to rely on solar power, according to Skip Herald, the CEO of steel company, Evraz North America.

The 300-MW Bighorn Solar Project, developed by Lightsource bp and located on mill company land, just closed on a $285 million financing package. Xcel Energy, as the power provider for the steel mill, will purchase the power generated by the solar farm under a long-term contract with Lightsource bp. It’s the largest on-site industrial solar facility, according to the developer.

The deal on the solar project was made last year after Evraz, Xcel’s largest power buyer in Colorado, threatened to move out of state “without assurances of low electricity rates,” as per reporting in the Denver Post.

Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas for Lightsource, said the plant “can provide 90% of the plant’s energy needs at peak production”.

Lightsource bp secured tax equity financing for the Bighorn project from Bank of America. The debt for the facility was provided by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Societe Generale, and Export Development Canada. The balance of the equity requirements will be invested by Lightsource bp.

Construction has already started with commercial operation expected by late 2021. McCarthy Building Companies was selected by Lightsource bp as EPC — installing nearly 750,000 Canadian Solar bifacial solar panels, mounted on trackers from Nextracker.

Smith, the CEO at Lightsource bp, noted that a few years ago, his buyers were almost entirely utilities — and today it’s more like 50-50 utilities and corporate energy consumers. More details here.

GM’s 180-MW PPA for Arkanas solar

General Motors has made a significant step towards achieving its goal of sourcing 100% of its energy from renewables by 2040, with the announcement that the company has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) for a 180-MW solar project set to be constructed in Arkansas.

Once the installation is completed in 2023, the capacity will lift GM to over 60% renewable energy usage. The deal is also significant for putting GM over 1 GW in renewable energy use. GM is the 11th-largest offtaker of renewable power in the U.S., and the largest offtaker in the manufacturing sector.

The project will use First Solar modules.

The electricity generated by this installation will supply three GM sites in the Midwest. The Wentzville Assembly facility in Missouri and Michigan’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly facility will be fully powered by solar energy, with the remaining power being allocated to the Lansing Grand River Assembly facility.

The installation also marks a significant capacity increase for the state of Arkansas, which has lagged in solar development to date, with just under 240 MW in installed capacity, good for 33rd in the nation. The state has recently seen a slight uptick in development interest, with a 132 MW solar  project in White County recently being approved by local regulators. That project, ‘Happy Solar,’ is set to be financed, built, owned and operated by Lightsource bp, with Lightsource selling the electricity generated to Conway Corp under a fixed-rate PPA.

Conway Corp runs the municipal electric, water, wastewater, cable TV, internet, TV and home security utility services for the people of Conway, Arkansas.

150-MW Superior project proposal in Michigan

A proposed 150-MW solar farm in Sands Township, Michigan is in the early stages of planning and development by Savion of Kansas City, Missouri. Savion is currently developing 69 solar projects in 24 states. The solar plant is being considered in light of recent local coal-plant closures.

100-MW East Line project in Arizona

Construction is underway on East Line Solar, a new solar plant from Salt River Project (SRP) and sPower, a renewable energy IPP, that which will bring $10 million in 25 years of tax revenue and up to 350 construction jobs to Pinal County, Arizona. It will  deliver 100 MW of solar power to Intel’s Ocotillo Campus in Chandler, a large semiconductor manufacturing site.

East Line Solar received is expected to begin operations by the end of the year. This development is part of SRP’s Sustainable Energy Offering, a program that gives SRP commercial customers the option to power a portion of their operations with emission-free energy at an affordable price. A total of 33 companies have signed up to receive 300 MW of solar energy provided from Arizona-based solar plants, according to a release.

199.6-MW solar farm in Ohio

The Ohio Power Siting Board has scheduled an Oct. 22 public hearing on a 199.6-MW solar farm in Pickaway County in south-central Ohio. The $214 million project will occupy about 1,375 acres within a larger 2,276-acre tract for the facility. The solar farm is being developed by Atlanta Farms Solar Project, a subsidiary of Savion. It will be located in Deer Creek and Perry townships near the village of Williamsport. The facility is expected to begin service in 2022. There will be a virtual hearing next week. Source: Kallanish Energy


Here’s some of our recent coverage of utility-scale solar projects in the U.S.

Tim Sylvia contributed to this article.

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