Lightsource bp, together with Xcel Energy and EVRAZ North America, has dedicated its new 300-megawatt Bighorn Solar project. Lightsource bp, a 50:50 joint venture with bp, unveiled the 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 US 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. Already, the plant recycles scrap metal to produce new steel products, including some of the most sustainably made rail in the world.
Kevin Smith, CEO, Lightsource bp, Americas, comments, “This project proves that even hard-to-abate sectors like steel can be decarbonised when companies come together with innovative solutions. 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.”
Dave Lawler, chairman and president of bp America, says, “Bighorn Solar shows us what the future of American energy can look like. Renewable energy can create a more sustainable, competitive business. Projects like this can make companies more resilient and protect jobs through the energy transition. And it’s another example of how bp is working to help the US and the world reach net zero by 2050.”
The Bighorn Solar project is currently generating electricity into the grid and is expected to come fully online in November 2021.
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.
Bob Frenzel, president and CEO, Xcel Energy, comments, “This is an exciting day for us at Xcel Energy. Working together with Lightsource bp and EVRAZ North America, we’re creating innovative solutions for our customers while developing new solar energy resources in Colorado. Through this collaboration we’re bringing jobs to the community, harnessing our natural resources and increasing renewable energy in the state.” 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.
Skip Herald, CEO, EVRAZ North America, adds, “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.”