Record-Setting Colorado Solar Project Advances

Dubbed Bighorn Solar, the 240-megawatt development will be the largest on-site solar facility dedicated to a single customer in the country.
Image via Pixabay

Xcel Energy, EVRAZ North America and Lightsource BP have reached a long-term agreement to develop a new 240-megawatt solar facility in Pueblo, Colo., dubbed Bighorn Solar. The arrangement supports Xcel’s energy goals and enables the EVRAZ’ planned long-term investment in the state, where it currently employs about 1,000 workers.

The agreement requires final review by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and it complements the broader Colorado Energy Plan, which will deliver 55 percent renewable energy to the grid by 2026 and reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent.

Green energy for steel production

Headquartered in Chicago, EVRAZ North America is a wholly owned subsidiary of EVRAZ plc, which is one of the world’s largest vertically integrated steel and mining businesses. The project will be located on EVRAZ’s Rocky Mountain Steel property in Pueblo and will be the largest on-site solar facility dedicated to a single customer in the country.

Lightsource BP will finance, build, own and operate the Bighorn Solar project and sell all the electricity it generates to Xcel Energy under a long-term power purchase agreement. The companies agreed to set in place a 20-year, fixed-rate structure contract that gives the steel mill price certainty through 2041.

Lightsource BP and project investors will pour in the solar facility about $250 million. The project is estimated to create 300 jobs in construction, operations, maintenance and asset management. Moreover, it will contribute more than $20 million in property tax revenue over the project’s life. Bighorn Solar is slated to begin commercial operation by the end of 2021.