Lightsource bp’s 300-MW solar project powers almost entire Colorado steel mill

Light source bp and Xcel Energy completed the 300 MW Bighorn Solar project in Pueblo, Colorado. The solar project will support more than 1,000 jobs at EVRAZ’s Pueblo steel plant and power nearly the entire operation.

Credit: light source bp

The project is located on 1,800 acres of land on EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel property in Pueblo. It is the largest on-site solar installation in the United States for a single customer, with more than 750,000 solar panels supplying nearly all of the plant’s annual electricity demand.

This allows the plant to produce some of the world’s greenest steel and steel products. The plant recycles scrap to produce new steel products, including some of the most sustainably made railway lines in the world.

“This project proves that even hard-to-reduce sectors like steel can be decarbonised when companies partner with innovative solutions,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of Lightsource bp, Americas. “Our partnership with Xcel Energy and EVRAZ North America has made Bighorn Solar a reality. It’s a great example of partners tackling complex issues facing US industry today, while also preserving manufacturing jobs.”

The Bighorn Solar project is currently generating electricity in the grid and is expected to come fully online in November 2021.

“Bighorn Solar shows us what the future of American energy could look like,” said Dave Lawler, chairman and president of bp America. “Renewable energy can create a more sustainable, competitive business. Such projects 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.”

Lightsource bp financed owns and operates Bighorn Solar and sells the generated electricity to Xcel Energy under a 20-year power purchase agreement. As part of that arrangement, EVRAZ will receive clean, sustainable power and price certainty from Xcel Energy until 2041.

“This is an exciting day for us at Xcel Energy,” said Bob Frenzel, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “By partnering with Lightsource bp and EVRAZ North America, we are creating innovative solutions for our customers as we develop new solar power sources in Colorado. Through this partnership, we bring jobs to the community, harness our natural resources, and increase renewable energy in the state.”

EVRAZ North America is Xcel Energy’s largest electrical customer in Colorado and one of Pueblo’s largest employers.

“Like bp and Xcel Energy, EVRAZ is committed to reducing emissions and operating more sustainably,” said Skip Herald, CEO of EVRAZ North America. “As each new hectare of solar panels is installed, we are getting 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 together within government and industry to promote cleaner energy, cleaner products and more resilient communities. This is an incredible milestone.”

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