The overall value of new project starts nationwide managed just a 1% gain during 2023, according to Dodge Construction Network, dragged down notably by double-digit declines in the residential sector and a decline in the manufacturing sector. On the positive side, the sector gaining the most ground in 2023 was power, which posted a sizable 56% increase in project starts during the past year.

Judging from Top Starts ranking of the largest projects to start construction during 2023 located in the states of Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, it’s easy to see that the Southwest did its part in boosting energy-sector construction starts. Looking at this year’s ranking, energy projects—mostly solar facilities—collectively totaled nearly $8.2 billion in overall costs.

Leading the list of top Southwest starts is the SunZia Wind project in Lincoln, N.M., estimated at $4.5 billion. Quanta Infrastructure Services Group is engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the transmission line, with Hitachi Energy as HVDC supplier and Blattner Energy, a Quanta unit, as EPC contractor for the wind project. A second SunZia contract, valued at $1 billion, ranks fourth.

In all, of the 20 projects included in the Top Starts ranking, eight will deliver solar and/or wind energy.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector—forecast by Dodge to see a 16% rebound in project starts nationwide during 2024—also provided numerous projects for this year’s Southwest ranking. For instance, LG Energy’s battery plant in Queen Creek, Ariz., valued at $1.6 billion, placed second. W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co. is delivering the project, estimated to complete in November 2025.

Another major project of note is the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine in northern Nevada, estimated at roughly $1 billion by Dodge Data & Analytics. The project owner, Lithium Americas has said Thacker Pass will be the largest lithium mine in North America, eventually producing more than 80,000 tons of battery-quality lithium carbonate per year. Bechtel Corp. is leading the project via a engineering-procurement-construction management contract.

In all, the projects listed on this year’s Southwest Top Starts ranking total more than $14.2 billion.

LG Energy’s battery plant

LG Energy’s $1.6-billion battery plant in Queen Creek, Ariz., ranked second on this year’s Top Starts ranking.
Image courtesy LG Energy

Intel’s Impact

While Intel Corp. did not place any new projects on the 2023 Top Starts ranking—the first time in two years—its $20-billion project to build Fab 52 and Fab 62, with general contractor Hoffman Construction Co., is speeding toward completion, with the first facility expected to go live later this year and the second to complete by 2025.

In recognition of these projects’ impact not only on the Southwest construction industry but also the overall national importance of these fabs, Intel Corp. was named 2024 Owner of the Year. We invite you to read our profile of Intel and how the firm and its contractors are delivering these massive facilities in Chandler, Ariz.