Granite Construction installing 1 megawatt thin-film solar system at facility

Granite Construction Co. announced on Oct. 14 that it is a voluntary early adopter of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), with the installation of a 1-megawatt (MW) thin-film solar system at one of its central California construction materials facilities.

The installation will reduce the facility’s carbon footprint by more than 50 percent — an amount equivalent to powering more than 190 homes annually.

“We are very pleased to be one of the first construction companies in the nation to use clean energy to power our materials production facilities,” said James H. Roberts, Granite president and CEO, in a written statement. “As part of our company’s sustainability goals, we are committed to reducing energy emissions at our aggregate and asphalt plants.”

The state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions falls under AB 32, a state-mandated plan to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The mandate goes into effect on January 1, 2012.

Located in Coalinga, California, Granite’s new 1 MW solar power plant is its largest net metering system constructed to date. Built using innovative technologies from Solar Frontier, eIQ Energy, Siemens, and Unirac, the 8-acre system comprises one of the most advanced thin-film net metering projects in the country today. Combined, the copper, indium, and selenium (CIS) thin-film solar panels, power management processes, and inverter controls are expected to reduce operational expenditures and increase overall efficiency.

“This Granite facility is a great example of how companies can incorporate renewable energy for operational needs and reduce their dependence on traditional energy sources,” said Greg Ashley, vice president and chief operations officer of Solar Frontier.

To date, Granite has built several net metering facilities in the West, including a 318-kilowatt (kW) system in Indio, California, and a 159 kW system in Tucson, Arizona. In addition, the University of Arizona commissioned Granite to build a 2 MW system at its Solar Technology Park. These projects provide Granite with valuable experience as a constructor of renewable-energy facilities as well as a developer and an ultimate end user.