Hazlehurst 72-MW Solar Facility
Hazlehurst, Ga.
Region ENR Southeast

Project Team
Owner Silicon Ranch Corp.
Lead Design Firm/General Contractor McCarthy Building Cos.
Civil Engineer Engineering Design Technologies
Electrical Engineer McCalmont Engineering
Electrical Contractor Cleveland Electric

Construction on the 425-acre Hazlehurst Solar Facility wrapped up three months ahead of schedule, despite workforce challenges.

The Hazlehurst facility, located on a 425-acre site in Jeff Davis County, is expected to generate more than 134 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually.

Before construction could begin in January 2016, Silicon Ranch ran into permitting issues, which resulted in a three-month delay and pushed the start date out to April.

Despite this delay, the project team was determined to complete the project before the end of 2016. To do that, McCarthy worked closely with subcontractors and major equipment vendors to keep the schedule on track. Medium voltage cable installations finished nearly one month ahead of their target date.

Under ordinary circumstances, only one of McCarthy’s offices would work on any given project, but because of this project’s location, size and complexity, the contractor decided to bring together its experts from multiple offices across the nation. But this also required clear lines of communication and authority. This created a project team that was able to draw upon its perspective, expertise and past experience in order to collaborate and create the best possible approach to complete this job following best practices.

McCarthy’s progressive approach to team collaboration and integration ensured the developer would be involved early on and made aware of schedule updates as the project progressed.

Given the project’s location in a rural part of southern Georgia, skilled workers weren’t readily available, so the contractor decided to train its own. McCarthy’s team trained more than 200 individuals, mostly local Hazlehurst residents, on how properly to install each individual component for the racking and modules. This was not only important for the team’s ability to perform the work, but it also put in place a trained workforce for potential future work at the site.

During the eight-month construction period, the project employed more than 300 workers, most of whom were local residents. “This facility is the lifeblood to this community and we will do anything to express our gratitude and for it to continue,” said Hazlehurst Mayor R. Bayne Stone.

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 project site. It was also essential that the local workers were properly trained, both for safety’s sake and also to ensure successful high-quality installations.

Over the course of 263,419 worker hours, the project team recorded zero lost-time accidents and one OSHA-recordable incident.

McCarthy implemented a Site Specific Quality Plan (SSQP) tailored specifically to the Hazlehurst Solar Facility that helped establish the expected level of quality, which was then communicated to the subcontractors and staff. The team also used BIM 360 to carry out most of the SSQP initiatives and ensure that the quality objectives were being met in the field.

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

In the end, the McCarthy-led project remained on track and finished in mid-December, three months ahead of the original schedule. The late start and early finish impressed this year’s Best of the Best judges, as did the contractor’s dedication to training its local workforce.

ENR's Best of the Best Projects 2017