The official launch of a massive solar array that will power the steel mill in Pueblo was held Wednesday on top of a hill with a view that framed the array, mill and power station connecting the two.
The Bighorn solar project, financed, built and operated by Lightsource BP, will generate electricity to power more than 90 percent of the EVRAZ Rocky Mountain steel mill, officials said. Up to 240 megawatts of power from the solar panels will be routed to the Comanche Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant run by Xcel Energy, on its way to the nearby steel mill. The project will be fully operational next month.
Bighorn is the largest on-site solar project for a single customer in the country, according to the Colorado Energy Office.
The array is made up of 750,000 solar panels installed on 1,800 acres of flat land in the open desert south of Pueblo. A wind tower manufacturing plant recently bought by South Korea-based company CS Wind is located south of the array.
Lightsource BP will supply electricity from the solar array to Xcel, the state’s largest utility, for at least 20 years under a purchasing agreement, officials said. The panels are expected to last at least 35 years.
EVRAZ workers will use the electricity to manufacture rail tracks that are longer and easier to install.