PUEBLO — City officials say Pueblo is on its way to becoming a nationwide leader in solar energy, beginning with the EVRAZ Steel Mill.
The Bighorn Solar Facility is now the largest on-site solar facility in America dedicated to a single customer.
“The first example here in the states of our new integrated energy strategy,“ said Dave Lawler, Chairman and President of BP America.
EVRAZ will become the world's first Steel Mill to operate almost entirely on solar power.
Lawler says the company wants to help reduce emissions in typically high-power industries.
Larry Atencio, Pueblo's City Council President, says he previously signed a resolution aiming to have Pueblo operating on 100% renewable energy by 2035. Atencio says the Bighorn Solar Facility is a step in the right direction.
“300 days a year of beautiful sunshine… This is the perfect place for solar energy and this is the center of renewable energy for Colorado and probably the United States," said Atencio.
Constructing the field of more than 750,000 solar panels brought over 300 jobs to Pueblo, and the city expects more will come as a result EVRAZ's shift to renewable energy.
“Pueblo is the hub of solar energy and it’ll bring companies here, and in terms of jobs... Jobs are going to be coming," said Atencio.
The panels allow the mill to produce some of the greenest steel and steel products in the world.
EVRAZ is supposed to reach maximum solar energy optimization in November 2021, but solar power is already being used to operate some of the facility.
“We’re really proud of the Pueblo community," said Lawler.
"We know that this is going to be a meaningful project long-term for the community, and if the world wanted to look to a place that’s actually representing energy of tomorrow, and a green economy... It is happening right here Pueblo.”
According to the EPA, tradition steel mills accounted for almost 80% of total reported emissions from the metal sector in 2020.