Lightsource bp has started commercial operations at a 163MW solar project in Texas, with military veterans supporting the plant’s construction through an apprenticeship programme.
Featuring more than 360,000 panels across around 1,350 acres of land, the Elm Branch solar farm is backed by an agreement Lightsource bp signed with aerospace and defence company L3Harris Technologies earlier this year for 100MW of capacity and environmental attributes.
Project owner and operator Lightsource bp selected McCarthy Building Companies as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the plant, located 40 miles south of Dallas.
An apprenticeship scheme led by McCarthy and Adaptive Construction Solutions, an organisation focused on providing meaningful work for veterans and other underserved populations, saw 50 veterans directly support the construction of the solar project or complete training at the site.
“We’re helping veterans, who have done so much to protect America, with an apprenticeship programme that’s the start of lasting careers for them in solar construction,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas at Lightsource bp.
Lightsource bp completed financing for both Elm Branch and the nearby 153MW Briar Creek solar plant in January as part of a US$380 million package.
Backed by a proxy generation power purchase agreement with investment group Allianz Global, Briar Creek is expected to be operational by the end of this year and has also seen McCarthy Building Companies provide EPC services.
Scott Canada, senior vice president of McCarthy’s renewable energy and storage group, said the company is implementing the veteran apprenticeship programme at other projects across the US, adding: “Solar is providing excellent opportunities for underemployed or unemployed veterans and workers to embark on new rewarding careers.”