A slew of wind, solar and other transmission megaprojects are fueling construction activity across the seven-state region.

“We’re very optimistic about renewables in the Mountain States,” notes Jesse Canzler, vice president and general manager for Mortenson’s wind energy division. “While transmission has been a limiting factor for some time, the announcement of several sizable projects, coupled with the benefits from the Inflation Reduction Act for renewable projects, will generate plenty of activity for the next several years. This will be good for the market because it means we’re going to be creating more jobs to support building and operating these projects while diversifying our grid with clean energy.”

Mortenson broke ground in June on the $576-million Boswell Springs Wind farm project in Rock River, Wyo. Other green power projects topping the region’s 2023 list of starts include the $525-million Cedar Springs Wind Farm in Rock River, Wyo.; the $255-million Cedar Creek Wind project in Idaho Falls; and the Sweetland Wind Farm and Wild Springs Solar projects in South Dakota, to name just a few.

The Limelight Hotel

The Limelight Hotel will fill a gap in the number of large conference venues in Boulder, Colo.
Rendering Courtesy WATG

But while construction activity is up, firms say the supply chain in general continues to be challenging to navigate. “We’re not seeing as much volatility today as we were two years ago, but primary electrical equipment lead times are anywhere from one to two years for main power transformers, high voltage breakers, transmission structures, etc.,” Canzler says. Labor also remains tight, and with limited craft workforce available in remote areas, major project contractors continue to lean on strategies that support innovation and bring new people into the industry and training them through apprenticeship programs.

Slade Opheikens, president and CEO at R&O Construction and board chair of AGC Utah, says working with owners to keep projects within budget has been especially challenging in the last year.

“Lately, it has been all about how do we help and get an owner in budget. Things have been delayed because financing has been harder to get, and we had about four projects canceled in the last year. One of them was significant, a $100-million project ... and that was after 14 months of preconstruction work,” he says. “But retail is stronger than I think most people anticipated, and we have a lot of smaller projects lined up with some of our regular clients.”

A number of tech projects also made the region’s list of top starts, including the Agilent Technologies pharmaceutical plant in Frederick, Colo., the Entegris Manufacturing plant in Colorado Springs; and Phase 2 of the NOVVA Data Center in West Jordan, Utah.