Lightsource bp and McCarthy Building Companies Partner on Bighorn Solar Project in Pueblo, Colorado

In September 2019, Xcel Energy and Lightsource bp announced that they had signed a long-term power contract for a new solar power facility in Pueblo, Colorado. One of the largest solar infrastructure projects in the state, the 300 megawatt Bighorn Solar project is being developed and financed by Lightsource bp, who will be the long-term owner and operator.

McCarthy to begin construction this fall

McCarthy Building Companies’ Renewable Energy & Storage team was named by Lightsource bp as the Engineer, Procure, and Construction (EPC) Contractor for the Bighorn Solar project, which will include the installation of nearly 750,000 Canadian Solar crystalline solar panels and NEXTracker single-axis trackers. The project is primarily located on 1,800 acres of land on EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel property in Pueblo, making it the largest on-site solar facility dedicated to a single customer in the country. Xcel Energy, as the electrical provider for the steel mill, will purchase the electricity wholesale from Lightsource bp to sell to EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel, providing cost effective and predictable electricity rates that are helping ensure that the steel mill that employs 1,000 local workers is able to remain in Pueblo as well as expand their operations.

“Colorado and the Pueblo community continue to advance a bold national model about how to take advantage and harness the power of the clean energy economy. This project is the latest example of the sweeping benefits of investing in renewable energy, including cutting pollution, and increasing local job growth.”

- Governor Jared Polis

Local job and training opportunities

“We selected the McCarthy team as our EPC contractor both for their track record in successfully building large utility-scale projects here in Colorado as well as their commitment to hiring a local workforce. This project is a great example of how innovative partnerships can maximize the economic benefits that clean energy projects bring to local communities. At Lightsource bp, we’re excited to partner with organizations that will help us be a leader in a transition to low carbon energy that includes everyone.”

- Kevin Smith
CEO of the Americas for Lightsource BP

In addition to the local economic benefits that Bighorn Solar is bringing to Pueblo through its contribution to the economics of the steel mill and its new expansion, the project will create approximately 300 direct jobs on site, the majority of which will be hired from the local community, for the 12-14 month construction period beginning this fall. Bighorn Solar is expected to complete in late 2021.

Area residents interested in working on the Bighorn Solar project should visit, and enter “solar” to find job postings for positions ranging from entry level to experienced, including laborer, operator, crew lead, electrician, and journeyman electrician.

To train entry level laborers and craft workers new to the growing solar industry, McCarthy is implementing principles of Training Within Industry (TWI), a program originally developed by United States Department of War in the 1940s to help re-train workers quickly and reliably on moderately complex tasks. Through its TWI solar program, McCarthy applies its "Learn. Perform. Repeat” methodology and offers highly effective and efficient training to workers with little or no experience in solar installations. By deploying TWI and lean construction principles on solar projects from coast to coast, McCarthy is overcoming the biggest challenge faced by the construction industry today and successfully training its craft workforce.

“Knowing the significant impact that Bighorn Solar will have on the community of Pueblo, Colorado makes it extremely rewarding to be part of building the project. The renewable energy sector is helping communities around the country to benefit from jobs and meeting their clean energy goals. Our workforce training program is designed to do exactly that, along with helping more people begin to develop careers in renewable energy.”

- Scott Canada
Executive Vice President of McCarthy’s Renewable Energy & Storage Group

Making solar jobs accessible to community members most in need

Lightsource bp is a corporate sponsor of GRID Alternatives, a national non-profit making renewable energy technology and job training accessible to low-income communities and communities of color. Through this partnership, Lightsource bp is sponsoring economic development programs in the state of Colorado, including a free solar training program for un- and underemployed workers in Pueblo. While the primary goal of the program is to train participants for the solar industry, graduates leave with valuable experiences that are transferable to the general construction, electrical, and mechanical trades. Lightsource bp is also a sponsor of an upcoming event with GRID Alternatives in Pueblo that highlights the installation of a community solar project benefitting low-income residents.

McCarthy looks forward to supporting Lightsource bp's partnership with GRID Alternatives and plans use their training program to assist with identifying local workers for the Bighorn Solar project construction.