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BP powers steel mill with solar power
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BP powers steel mill with solar power

BP powers steel mill with solar power

Lightsource BP is powering almost an entire steel mill with solar energy.

A BP venture is powering a steel mill almost entirely with solar power, which will reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 433,000 per year.

Lightsource BP, a San Francisco-based 50/50 venture that pursues renewable energy projects around the United States, is investing more than $285 million in the project at a Colorado steel mill. The 300-megawatt Bighorn Solar project is expected to support more than 1,000 jobs at EVRAZ’s Pueblo steel mill, which will be the first steel mill in the United States to be powered largely by solar energy.

BP, which operates the BP Whiting Refinery along the lakeshore, said the switch to a cleaner source of energy will remove the equivalent of 92,100 fuel-burning cars from the streets.

“This project proves that even hard-to-abate sectors like steel can be decarbonized when companies come together with innovative solutions," said Kevin Smith, CEO of Lightsource BP Americas. "Our collaboration with Xcel Energy and EVRAZ North America made Bighorn Solar a reality. It’s a great example of partners tackling complex issues that US industry is facing today, while at the same time preserving jobs in the manufacturing sector.”

Lightsource BP, Xcel Energy and EVRAZ North America are installing more than 750,000 solar panels to meet almost all of the electricity demands of the mini-mill, which recycles scrap metal in an electric arc furnace to make rail products.

“Bighorn Solar shows us what the future of American energy can look like," said Dave Lawler, chairman and president of BP America. "Renewable energy can create a more sustainable, competitive business. Projects like this can make companies more resilient and protect jobs through the energy transition."

Lightsource BP financed, owns and operates the solar installation. It will sell the electricity generated to the utility Xcel Energy, which will in turn supply clean, renewable power at a steady fixed-rate price to the steel mill.

“This is an exciting day for us at Xcel Energy. Working together with Lightsource bp and EVRAZ North America, we’re creating innovative solutions for our customers while developing new solar energy resources in Colorado," Xcel Energy Bob Frenzel said. "Through this collaboration we’re bringing jobs to the community, harnessing our natural resources and increasing renewable energy in the state.”

The project is expected to be completed in November.

“Like BP and Xcel Energy, EVRAZ is committed to reducing emissions and operating more sustainably," EVRAZ North America CEO Skip Herald said. "As each new acre of solar panels is installed, we find ourselves 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 across government and industry to promote cleaner energy, cleaner products and more resilient communities. This is an incredible milestone.

Lightsource BP has created more than nine gigawatts of large-scale solar projects across the United States that represent more than $2.2 billion in potential investment. It's had more than 2.7 gigawatts of energy production contracted.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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