Solar farm

A flatbed truck brings materials into the work site on Bill May Road where a 20-megawatt solar farm is beginning construction.

BERLIN, Ga. — PCL Construction Services, Inc., one of the largest contractors in North America, announced Wednesday that the company has begun construction on the 20-megawatt Odom Solar Farm, located near the town of Berlin in eastern Colquitt County.

The construction site is on Bill May Road near Peachtree Road, surrounded by woods and fields.

“Colquitt County welcomes both Silicon Ranch Corporation and PCL Construction Services to the community,” Barbara Grogan, president of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority, said. “Silicon Ranch will be joining the business and industry leaders of Colquitt County as an engaged member of our civic community, providing quality jobs initially through PCL Construction and expanding the tax base in the long term.  The authority looks forward to many years of community commitment by Silicon Ranch and others who wish to develop solar arrays.”

Silicon Ranch Corporation, one of the nation’s largest independent solar power producers, selected PCL’s solar division as the Engineer-Procure-Construct (EPC) contractor for the project, according to a press release from the companies and the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority. One of the industry’s most well-resourced contractors providing EPC services, PCL's contracted solar projects in the United States, Australia, and Canada total over one gigawatt, the release said.

The Odom Solar Farm is part of a portfolio of projects that will provide power to Walton Electric Membership Corporation as part of the utility’s agreement to supply 100 percent renewable energy for Facebook’s data center in Newton County, Georgia, the release said. In total, Walton EMC and Silicon Ranch have executed six contracts totaling 435 megawatts of new renewable energy generation to support Facebook’s operations in Georgia. Silicon Ranch commissioned the first of these projects, the 102.5-megawatt Bancroft Station Solar Farm in Early County in November 2019.

“PCL is responsible for the design, procurement, construction, commissioning, and handover of the utility-scale solar facility,” the release said. “Silicon Ranch is funding the installation and will own and operate the array for the long-term, a disciplined approach the company takes with every project it develops.”

Both Silicon Ranch and PCL share a commitment to safety and are following CDC and OSHA guidance for preparing workplaces and responding to COVID-19 at the project site through social distancing, additional cleaning, and monitoring standards in an effort to reduce the impact of the virus, the release said. Workers supporting the energy sector through renewable energy, including those involved with construction, have been identified as “essential” by the Department of Homeland Security.  

To construct the project, PCL and its subcontractors will hire approximately 150 craft workers, with preference given to recruits from the local labor pool and the military veteran community. Positions include mechanics, electricians, operators, foremen, safety professionals, inventory specialists, carpenters, installers, general laborers, and more. Area residents interested in working on the project can learn more by visiting the ‘Skilled Craft’ section of PCL’s website.

“As the long-term owner of our projects, Silicon Ranch is committed to supporting the communities we serve, and we’re pleased to work with PCL to execute this vision in Colquitt County,” said Silicon Ranch co-founder and CEO Reagan Farr. “Silicon Ranch has invested significantly in the local and statewide economy over the past several years, and we are grateful to Walton EMC and Facebook for making the Odom Solar Farm and this investment possible in rural southwest Georgia.”

“PCL believes in the ability of solar power producers to bring long-term value and economic development to local communities through access to low-cost, clean energy,” said Rick Goldman, vice president & district manager for PCL. “As a collaborative construction partner, we are committed to driving economic opportunities to the Colquitt County community through partnership with Silicon Ranch and the local labor pool.”

“Because our customers own us, Walton EMC’s primary focus is serving their needs,” said Walton EMC CEO Ronnie Lee. “Our partner, Silicon Ranch, has enabled us to supply Facebook with the renewable energy they desire for the Newton Data Center. Besides being good citizens and contributing to the economic wellbeing of the communities where they locate, Silicon Ranch also cares for the environment through their Regenerative Energy platform. This fits perfectly with our principle of ‘concern for community.’”

The U.S. is the second-largest generator of solar power in the world, and Georgia remains one of the fastest-growing markets for growth in the country. In its 10th annual National Solar Jobs Census, the Solar Foundation reported that Georgia placed first in the nation in 2019 in the rate of solar job growth, with an increase of nearly 30 percent. According to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, the state of Georgia is projected to see continued growth in solar construction through at least 2024.

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