McCarthy Building Companies Inc. has begun construction on the 20 MW Cumberland Solar Project in Elkmont, Alabama, located on 130 acres approximately 20 miles northwest of Huntsville.
Silicon Ranch, one of the nation’s largest independent solar power producers, selected McCarthy’s Phoenix-based Renewable Energy team as the EPC contractor. McCarthy is responsible for the design, procurement, construction, commissioning and handover of the solar project to developer, owner, and operator Silicon Ranch.
McCarthy will hire upwards of 120 craft workers to construct the project, the majority of whom are being recruited from the local community, supporting growth in the clean energy job sector. The project will consist of assembling, installing and wiring horizontal 540 single-axis trackers supporting 170,220 solar panels. Once completed, it’s expected to generate enough power for 3,000 homes.
To train entry level laborers or those 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 quickly and reliably re-train workers 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 who have 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 solar workforce.
Silicon Ranch Chief Technology Officer Pete Candelaria said, “As the long-term owner and operator of our entire portfolio, Silicon Ranch is deeply committed to the communities we serve. Silicon Ranch seeks to use local service providers and hire from the local community as much as possible, and we are proud to work with McCarthy to execute this vision.”
Power from the solar array will be transmitted onto the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system, which operates in Limestone County, Ala. TVA entered into a long-term agreement with Silicon Ranch to buy competitively priced power from the solar facility. The Cumberland Solar Project is scheduled to complete in December 2018.
“This project supports TVA’s mission of service and helps us deliver reliable, low-cost, carbon-free electricity to the 9 million people of the Tennessee Valley,” said Jay Stowe, senior vice president Distributed Energy Resources for TVA. “Over the next 20 years TVA will invest about $8 billion to support our renewable energy portfolio to help our customers meet their carbon reduction goals.”
“Coast to coast, utility-scale solar installation projects are locking in reliability, favorable rates and social responsibility for energy-focused businesses, municipalities and utilities alike by leveraging the power of the sun,” said Scott Canada, senior vice president of the Renewable Energy team at McCarthy. “We are grateful to team up with sustainable-minded solar owners like Silicon Ranch that understand the value of this infrastructure to local communities, which will provide clean energy for decades to come.”
In recent years, McCarthy’s Renewable Energy Team has completed or is in the process of constructing more than 30 utility-scale clean energy projects in communities from coast to coast, representing a combined capacity of more than 1.3 GW of clean energy production. McCarthy earned a 6th place ranking for EPC utility-scale solar installations in the U.S. by Solar Power World’s 2017 Top 500 Solar Contractors.