Engineering News-Record (ENR) named Three Peaks Solar the best energy/industrial project in the Intermountain Region of the United States for 2017. An 80 megawatt utility-scale solar facility, Three Peaks Solar produces enough clean energy to power more than 12,000 homes. Blymyer Engineers served as the lead design firm and structural engineer on the award-winning project, and Swinerton Renewable Energy was the general contractor.
Three Peaks Solar is located on the outskirts of Cedar City, Utah, near the geologically distinctive Three Peaks Recreation Area. The 739-acre solar facility features 344,072 Q.Cell modules and single-axis trackers from Nextracker. To convert the current produced, the facility relies in 36 SMA Sunny Central 2500 inverters.
Overcoming site challenges as a team
The Three Peaks area is hilly and the area’s volcanic soils are hard, which made excavation a challenge. More than 400,000 cubic yards of dirt were moved on the project. The design also required driving more than 48,000 piles.
“Three Peaks is a beautiful area, with abundant sunshine,” says Blymyer President Mike Rantz. “In many ways, it’s an ideal location for a utility-scale solar facility. However, the hard, rocky soil did present some design and construction challenges. Collaboration across the design and construction team helped us overcome hurdles while delivering the project on time and on budget.”
He adds, “The Blymyer team is honored that ENR chose Three Peaks as a best project for 2017. From structural and civil engineering to construction, everyone who contributed to the project helped make it a winner.”
Project management innovation
Beyond the site challenges, Three Peaks Solar stood out for project management innovation on the part of Swinerton. Three Peaks Solar was the first project built using Sunscreen, a project management application developed by Swinerton. The application is designed to track and report real-time progress on solar construction projects. Sunscreen connects the client to project progress. Construction teams use iPads in the field to collect data for Sunscreen.
“Sunscreen is an example of Swinerton’s project delivery innovation,” notes Rantz. “The application offers clients a new level of transparency as it improves communication on the construction site. As a frequent collaborator with Swinerton, Blymyer appreciates the firm’s proactive approach to project management. The success of Three Peaks Solar highlights the benefits of effective communication and management tools, like Sunscreen.”