Veterans support construction of new solar farm in Texas
A new solar power project in Texas has gone into commercial operation, with military veterans a significant portion of the facility’s construction workforce.
Elm Branch’s 163 MW solar farm, operated in part under a power contract between L3Harris Technologies and Lightsource bp, included an apprenticeship program led by McCarthy Building Companies, the project’s EPC contractor, and Adaptive Construction Services (ACS). The program has resulted in approximately 50 veterans either directly supporting construction at the site or completing their training.
Construction of the solar park began in January this year and has created around 250 construction jobs.
“Veterans are a vital part of our business and our nation’s workforce,” said Byron Green, vice president, Global Operations, L3Harris. “This new solar project serves as a model of the benefits that goals shared among multiple organizations can create to support veterans, communities and the environment.”
The companies said on November 10 that the solar power deal between L3Harris and Lightsource bp, for 100 MW of Elm Branch’s output, will help L3Harris meet its commitment to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 % by 2026.
“In our Elm Branch solar project in Texas, we have come together with great partners who have a common goal of helping to advance America’s sustainability,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas, Lightsource bp. “Together, we have built an infrastructure that will reduce carbon emissions in the electricity sector and promote healthier and more resilient communities. At the same time, we are helping veterans, who have done so much to protect America, with an apprenticeship program that is the start of a lasting career for them in solar construction.
The Elm Branch Solar Farm includes more than 360,000 solar panels on approximately 1,350 acres of land 40 miles south of Dallas.
“Solar power provides excellent opportunities for veterans and underemployed or unemployed workers to embark on rewarding new careers,” said Scott Canada, senior vice president of McCarthy’s Renewable Energy and Storage group. “Veterans bring incredibly valuable skills and through our accredited apprenticeship training program we are able to train them and pave the way for a long-term career in construction. We have had great success with the program at Elm Branch and are implementing it on other projects across the country.
ACS, a veteran-owned and staffed organization, joined the project to implement its accredited learning program, which is free to participating veterans. The ACE program enables every apprentice to acquire skills through a combination of on-the-job training, mentoring and technical instruction. The program is designed to help Veterans understand and develop the skills and knowledge essential for success in construction projects. It also supports McCarthy’s National Craft Workforce Training Initiative.
“Developing effective partnerships with employers and the public workforce system is critical to the success of any workforce development program,” said Nicolas Morgan, President of ACS. “Apprenticeships at Elm Branch have provided Veterans with the opportunity to acquire the skills to work confidently and contribute to a team, as well as recognized industry credentials that can result in lasting careers. “
–Darrell proctor is Senior Associate Editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).