Hazlehurst 72-MW Solar Facility
Hazlehurst, Ga.
Best Project

Owner: Silicon Ranch Corp.
Lead Design Firm/General Contractor: McCarthy Building Cos.
Civil Engineer: Castle Contracting LLC
Structural Engineer: Engineering Design Technologies
MEP Engineer: McCalmont Engineering
Electrical Engineer: Cleveland Electric

Built on a 425-acre site in southern Georgia, EPC contractor McCarthy Building Cos. delivered a 72-MW solar facility three months ahead of the original schedule, using mostly local labor that was not experienced in solar work. More than 300 workers on the project installed around 633,000 solar panels in under nine months.

McCarthy’s renewable energy team was responsible for the design, procurement, construction, commissioning and handover of the Hazlehurst solar project to developer Silicon Ranch.

McCarthy initially planned a 12-month construction schedule, but a permitting issue pushed the original start date from January 2016 to April 2016. Despite the delay, the team remained committed to completing the project before the end of 2016. McCarthy worked closely with subcontractors and major equipment vendors to help the schedule stay on track. Medium-voltage cable installations finished nearly one month ahead of schedule.

Due to the project’s rural location, a large skilled workforce wasn’t available locally. McCarthy and its subcontractors recruited and trained more than 200 workers on how to properly install each component for the racking and modules. In order to keep the project on track, workers had to complete set-ups efficiently and effectively, perfecting their installation methods so that production could move quickly through the site.

Crews performed a total of 263,419 work hours to complete the facility, recording zero lost-time accidents and only one OSHA recordable incident. McCarthy’s strategy included not only keeping workers safe and productive but also training a workforce for potential future work at the site.

McCarthy utilized BIM 360 to track issues and utilized the checklists for installation verification and commissioning. The contractor developed project-specific form templates for each definable feature of work and uploaded them—with current drawings—to field iPads. Issues were tracked and reports distributed at regular intervals to subcontractors. These reports were also reviewed and discussed during weekly trade coordination meetings to expedite resolution.

McCarthy leveraged internal resources from offices around the country to support the project, making clear lines of communication and authority essential. McCarthy took a progressive approach to team collaboration and integration so that the developer would be involved early on and understand schedule updates as the project progressed.

The developer had worked with McCarthy on numerous solar facilities across the U.S. Pete Candelaria, chief technology officer at Silicon Ranch, says a key to the team’s success was McCarthy’s ability to establish working relationships with neighbors, local leadership, local partners and the local community. “As long-term owners of all our projects, Silicon Ranch takes a long-term view of our roles and responsibilities in the communities we serve, and McCarthy has always been sensitive to and supportive of our company’s values,” he says.

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