Granite commissions one of first U.S. solar-powered construction materials facilities

A Granite Construction asphalt concrete and aggregate facilities in Indio, Calif., is among the first in the nation to use solar energy to generate as much as 75 percent of its required power.

The clean energy produced onsite is equivalent to providing power for up to 100 homes.

“The commissioning of this site is significant not only for Granite and the Coachella Valley but also for the state of California,” said Jim Roberts, Granite president and CEO.”This installation helps the state achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and signifies Granite’s environmental commitment to reducing consumption of traditional forms of power at our materials facilities.”

The state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions falls under the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), a state-mandated plan to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The 318-kilowatt (kW) solar-powered project is designed using Amonix concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar power systems. Each of the six systems has dual-axis tracking to maximize the sun’s rays and generate clean energy to operate Granite’s facility.

Amonix CPV technology is also powering a Granite facility in Tucson, Ariz., which has three systems onsite.

All surplus power generated when the plant is not in use provides usable clean energy to Imperial Irrigation District (IID) customers. IID helped make the project possible through its photovoltaic solar solutions program, which has provided more than $6 million in incentives to residential and nonresidential customers since 2008.

The Indio installation is representative of Granite’s initiative to reduce energy emissions at its construction materials facilities by 2012. To further this effort, Granite has teamed with Amonix to install an additional 159 kW system at its Swan facility in Arizona.

In addition, Granite recently installed a 2-megawatt (MW) Amonix system at the University of Arizona’s Solar Technology Park. Granite has also started construction on a 1 MW facility in Coalinga, Calif., using thin-film technology from Solar Frontier.

Granite’s net metering facilities in Indio, Tucson, and Coalinga represent long-life sources of renewable energy with numerous environmental benefits. These projects will generate acceptable rates of return on invested capital and will provide Granite with valuable experience as a renewable energy contractor and developer, according to the construction company.

Granite says it believes that the renewable-energy market is an attractive space for growth and diversification due to its core competencies as a contractor with a leading market presence in areas abundant with renewable resources.