Plans to build one of the Colorado’s largest solar facilities are a step closer to reality as Xcel Energy, EVRAZ North America and Lightsource BP announced recently they have reached a long-term agreement to develop a new 240-megawatt solar facility in Pueblo.
Lightsource BP will finance, build, own and operate the Bighorn Solar project and sell all the electricity it generates to Xcel Energy under a long-term power purchase agreement. It will be located on EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel property in Pueblo, making it the largest on-site solar facility dedicated to a single customer in the country. This innovative agreement makes possible EVRAZ North America’s planned long-term investment in Colorado, while supporting the goals of Xcel Energy’s partners and community.
The partners’ agreement requires final review by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. It complements the broader Colorado Energy Plan, which will deliver 55% renewable energy to the grid by 2026 and reduce carbon emissions by 60%. The agreement is also part of Xcel Energy’s commitment to collaborate on solutions that benefit customers, communities and local economies.
EVRAZ North America is Xcel Energy’s largest retail electric customer in Colorado and one of Pueblo’s largest employers. The companies agreed to work towards a long-term electricity contract in 2018 that gives the steel mill price certainty through 2041. With its 20-year, fixed rate structure, the project provides EVRAZ North America with predictable electricity prices and allows the mill, which employs about 1,000 workers, to stay in Pueblo.
Lightsource BP and project investors will invest an estimated $250 million into the solar facility. In addition to providing low cost-energy and budget certainty, the project will create about 300 jobs in construction, operations, maintenance and asset management. It will also contribute over $22 million in property tax revenue over the project life, benefitting local schools, street maintenance fire stations, parks and other community public services. The project is expected to go online by the end of 2021.