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Burns & McDonnell Completes 250 MWac of Solar Projects for Alliant Energy in Wisconsin

MADISON, WI — Burns & McDonnell has completed engineer-procure-construct (EPC) services for three Alliant Energy solar projects in Wisconsin. The projects are part of Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint. These projects are now energized:
  • Bear Creek — 50-MWac
  • North Rock — 50-MWac
  • Wood County — 150-MWac

Despite tariffs on Asian-manufactured solar panels that caused many developers to pause their projects between late 2021 and the first half of 2022, Alliant Energy chose to keep these initial three projects moving forward. Alliant Energy maintained progress in its program due to a series of proactive steps that included procurement of 1.5 million bifacial photovoltaic (PV) modules in advance of the tariff-related uncertainty that emerged. Due to close collaboration between Alliant Energy and the integrated EPC team, critical paths for long-lead items were identified along with innovative engineering that enabled construction scheduling efficiencies.

“Big thoughts go nowhere without bold actions,” said Doug Riedel, Senior Vice President of Renewables at Burns & McDonnell. "Alliant Energy took the bold actions needed to keep these projects moving forward and fulfilling commitments to make its Clean Energy Blueprint a reality.”

The projects also were completed with an exemplary safety record despite difficult winter weather conditions. Not only did the projects achieve zero OSHA recordables, but they also established safety procedures credited for life-saving measures for a construction team member who experienced a cardiac arrest on the Wood County job site.

“Keeping everyone who sets foot on our jobsites safe is our expectation on every one of our projects, and achieving that outcome requires an extreme focus on safety by all including a great owner partner, executives, project management, front line supervision, and tradespeople,” said Matt Ralston, Senior Vice President of the Construction Group at Burns & McDonnell.

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The solar projects also created several opportunities to give back to various communities where they are located. A 2022 charity golf tournament in Cottage Grove raised more than $30,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wisconsin with additional goods and funds donated to various local food pantries, schools, and other community-based organizations.

As part of a commitment to support the local employment base, an apprenticeship program was instituted through AZCO, the union construction subsidiary of Burns & McDonnell. The program provided field-based training and hands-on experience to 78 apprentices across the program. AZCO has sponsored apprenticeships to 12 Apprentice Operating Engineers and 13 Apprentice NCSRCC Carpenters. Of AZCO’s total workforce for the program to date, 87 percent are Wisconsin residents, thus supporting local communities where these projects are built. Additionally, multiple tours were held for local high school and secondary trade school students, emphasizing the pathways for entering the trades.

Burns & McDonnell has now mobilized on six additional solar sites included in Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint. These projects are advancing as scheduled due to an integrated EPC contract framework that creates efficiencies for environmental studies and permitting, ongoing electrical engineering, civil and structural design, substation construction, and interconnection tie-in support.

When complete, the nine solar facilities will span nearly 5,000 acres and add 664 MWac in total solar capacity to the regional grid. Over the duration of the program, more than 600 Burns & McDonnell employee-owners and approximately 870 crafts and trades are expected to be deployed to the project sites. The following equipment manufacturers and suppliers are key partners contributing to the project: Array Technologies, Nucor, Trina Solar, Power Electronics, and Vertec.

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