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McCarthy Building Companies Ramps Up Construction of 800 MW Double Black Diamond Solar Project

ST. LOUIS, MO — Swift Current Energy is ramping up construction this spring for its Double Black Diamond solar project in central Illinois. The company has contracted St. Louis-based McCarthy Building Companies as the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor. Swift Current has also selected American-based First Solar to provide the 800 MWdc solar modules for the project and American-based Nextracker to provide the smart solar tracker solutions for the project. The majority of the project's 1.6 million solar panels will be manufactured in the United States.

In coordination with local unions, the project is hiring approximately 435 craft workers to construct the Double Black Diamond solar project, with crews having already begun sitework. Peak workforce is expected to be onsite for approximately 14 months, beginning in late spring 2023. The project is expected to reach commercial operation by fall 2024, with Swift Current continuing to own and operate the facility.

"As the developer and long-term owner of Double Black Diamond, we are thrilled to prepare for full mobilization of the more than 400 skilled workers who will construct this project," said Eric Lammers, CEO of Swift Current Energy. "The Double Black Diamond solar project brings together American-based businesses McCarthy, First Solar, and Nextracker to construct a market-leading project that we hope will serve as an example for other projects to come."

The project has set apprenticeship, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion hiring goals, which are being facilitated by local unions for carpenters, laborers, operators, electricians, and crew leads. In partnership with the unions, McCarthy will train workers who are inexperienced in utility-scale solar construction to assist with future workforce needs and accommodate the exponential regional and national growth of the solar industry.

McCarthy is responsible for the design, procurement, construction, and commissioning of the solar facility, which represents the largest solar energy project in Illinois and will significantly enhance the region's sustainable energy infrastructure.

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"We are grateful to be partnering with Swift Current Energy to build Illinois' largest solar project and helping to deliver upon the sustainability and DEI goals of the Double Black Diamond project," said Scott Canada, Executive Vice President of McCarthy's Renewable Energy & Storage team. "With the expansive growth of utility-scale solar construction throughout the country, we are thrilled to be able to facilitate the development of a more diverse workforce while also supporting the state's sustainability goals. Double Black Diamond truly represents a community impact project for the region."

Once operational, the project will provide reliable, renewable energy and offset the equivalent emissions of more than 85,000 Illinois households per year. In collaboration with Constellation, it was announced in August that the City of Chicago would be a key end-user for the Double Black Diamond solar project. Starting in 2025, the City of Chicago will partially source its large energy uses such as Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport as well as certain other large facilities with renewable energy from the Double Black Diamond solar project. Additionally, the project is expected to bring $100 million in tax revenue to Sangamon and Morgan counties in central Illinois, where the project is located.

Additionally, State Farm and PPG will purchase zero-emission, renewable energy from the Double Black Diamond solar project. Illinois-based State Farm will procure approximately 103,000 MWh of energy per year from Constellation, as part of the insurance company's continued efforts at reducing its overall impact on the environment. The energy purchased by State Farm is the equivalent to what is currently used to power eight of State Farm's corporate facilities in Bloomington, including its corporate headquarters and operations center.

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