Burns & McDonnell completes 764 MW solar portfolio in Wisconsin

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Burns & McDonnell announced it has completed a series of nine solar projects for Alliant Energy, an electric utility serving customers in Wisconsin. The portfolio of projects support the utility’s Clean Energy Blueprint – a plan to bring 1.1 GW of solar generation to the state by the end of 2024.

The projects span over 5,000 acres and are expected to generate enough electricity to serve the equivalent power demand of 170,000 homes. The projects include:

Engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) was performed by Burns & McDonnell. The projects started construction in 2021 and were delivered on-time amid COVID-19, labor, and supply chain restrictions that beleaguered the utility-scale segment at the time.

“Having our EPC team, self-perform crews, environmental and permitting specialists, and substation and interconnection support teams integrated with Alliant Energy and the local union halls early in the project was critical to achieving certainty in outcome and delivering on time,” said Chad Cotter, vice president of solar construction, Burns & McDonnell. “But I think most important was Alliant Energy’s bold vision to move forward with these projects despite the volatile period that paused many other projects across the country.”

Alliant Energy said the strategic investments in solar will help the utility save on long-term costs.

Over 1,300 craft workers were employed during the installation of the nine utility-scale solar projects. An apprenticeship program was run through AZCO, the union construction subsidiary of B&M. It provided hands-on experience for 230 apprentices working as carpenters, electricians, laborers, operators and millwrights. B&M said over 75% of program participants were Wisconsin residents.

“The local union halls and contractor partners, we were able to help Alliant Energy deliver exceptional value to customers across Wisconsin while keeping project dollars in the community,” said Josh Ronk, construction project manager, AZCO.

Nine greenfield substations were built during this project, with six generation-tie lines adding about 8 miles of 69-kV and 138-kV transmission lines. To address ongoing supply chain issues, the team made use of temporary high-voltage gas circuit breakers that were decommissioned from an Alliant Energy coal plant to maintain the project schedule while waiting for high-voltage circuit breakers to arrive.

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