PUEBLO, Colo. — Something big is happening in southern Colorado. One of the state's largest solar fields is now almost fully powering the 150-year-old EVRAZ steel mill in Pueblo.
"We've always been a trendsetter here in the West," said David Lawler, the chairman and president of bp America. "This sets up the steel mill for long-term success."
Lightsource bp, a 50/50 joint venture with bp, recently 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 U.S. dedicated to a single customer, with more than 750,000 solar panels providing nearly all the plant’s annual electricity demand.
"Worldwide, heavy industry can depend on renewable energy to power their facilities," said Kevin Smith, CEO of Americas for Lightsource bp. "This is really significant."
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.
Lightsource bp said 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.
The Bighorn Solar project is currently generating electricity into the grid and is expected to come fully online in November. Now, a world of opportunity awaits.
"It's not just steel mills," Smith explained. "It'll be auto manufacturing facilities, it'll be mines... chemical plants. You know, really across the board."