The Seven Sisters Protect Nature Once Again

Contributor: Swinerton Blogger   |   April 28, 2015
The Seven Sisters Protect Nature Once Again

The original Seven Sisters, known to the ancient Greeks as the Pleiades, helped the Greek goddess Artemis protect nature. This is why Swinerton Renewable Energy feels it’s appropriate for our seven solar projects, being built in Utah by us and our partners, also be named the Seven Sisters. In the tradition of their Greek predecessors, the projects will protect nature and the environment by producing clean, emissions-free energy.

Swinerton Project Manager Brian Irlbeck says the hardest part of the 22.6 MW project is the distance between the sites. The closest two are only five minutes apart, but the furthest two are nearly two hours apart. Between them, there is a lot of rural country to travel through.

“When you are at all the sites, you have cell phone coverage,” Irlbeck says. “Traveling to and from them—let’s just say it’s spotty.”

The seven projects benefit these rural areas in three major ways:

- Unused land—essentially tumbleweeds and rocks—now makes money for the landowners instead of sitting idle.

- The counties where the projects are located can now collect property taxes. This enriches the county coffers and allows them to provide their citizens with more services.

- During construction, Swinerton Renewable Energy hires local subcontractors, infusing money into the local economy. We have made a commitment to hiring 80% of our workforce from local contractors.

As one might imagine, the biggest challenge facing these projects is coordinating all the moving parts across the distance. Irlbeck says coordinating the delivery of materials, the inspections, and the workers to ensure the projects are completed on time could be very troublesome. Thankfully, Swinerton vets our subcontractors at least two months ahead of time.

“We have an entire staff whose sole job is to make sure we have qualified partners locally,” says Irlbeck. “It’s an intense set of interviews, background checks, and references. We can’t afford to have people who don’t live up to Swinerton’s standards working on our projects.”

The projects will feed into the grid and produce enough energy to power more than 4,000 Utah homes. SunEdison is financing the project and will sell it to its yieldco subsidiary, TerraForm Power, upon completion. Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp, will then purchase the energy.

Swinerton and our partners held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the project in early April due to concerns of interruptions from the snow. Thankfully, they dodged the snow, but the temperatures were still not warm by any means. “I have to admit…it was still a little frigid out there,” says Irlbeck with a laugh.