Swift Current Energy is ramping up construction this spring for its Double Black Diamond solar project in central Illinois. The company has contracted St. Louis-based McCarthy Building Companies as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor.
Swift Current has also selected First Solar to provide the 800 MW DC solar modules for the project and Nextracker to provide the smart solar tracker solutions for the project. The majority of the project’s 1.6 million solar panels will be manufactured in the United States.
In coordination with local unions, the project is hiring approximately 435 craft workers to construct the Double Black Diamond solar project, with crews having already begun sitework. Peak workforce is expected to be onsite for approximately 14 months, beginning in late spring 2023. The project is expected to reach commercial operation by fall 2024, with Swift Current continuing to own and operate the facility.
The project has set apprenticeship, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion hiring goals, which are being facilitated by local unions for carpenters, laborers, operators, electricians and crew leads. In partnership with the unions, McCarthy will train workers who are inexperienced in utility-scale solar construction to assist with future workforce needs and accommodate the exponential regional and national growth of the solar industry.
McCarthy is responsible for the design, procurement, construction and commissioning of the solar facility, which represents the largest solar energy project in Illinois and will significantly enhance the region’s sustainable energy infrastructure.
“With the expansive growth of utility-scale solar construction throughout the country, we are thrilled to be able to facilitate the development of a more diverse workforce while also supporting the state’s sustainability goals – Double Black Diamond truly represents a community impact project for the region,” says Scott Canada, executive vice president of McCarthy’s renewable energy and storage team.”
Once operational, the project will provide reliable, renewable energy and offset the equivalent emissions of more than 85,000 Illinois households per year. In collaboration with Constellation, it was announced in August that the City of Chicago would be a key end-user for the Double Black Diamond solar project.
Starting in 2025, the City of Chicago will partially source its large energy uses such as Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport as well as certain other large facilities with renewable energy from the Double Black Diamond solar project. Additionally, the project is expected to bring $100 million in tax revenue to Sangamon and Morgan counties in central Illinois, where the project is located.
Additionally, State Farm and PPG will purchase zero-emission, renewable energy from the Double Black Diamond solar project. Illinois-based State Farm will procure approximately 103,000 MWh of energy per year from Constellation, as part of the insurance company’s continued efforts at reducing its overall impact on the environment. The energy purchased by State Farm is the equivalent to what is currently used to power eight of State Farm’s corporate facilities in Bloomington, including its corporate headquarters and operations center.