FAQs

We’ve received lots of interest in the Bighorn Solar project and our partnership with Xcel Energy and EVRAZ North America, so we’ve put together a list of the most commonly asked questions, and their answers:

 

How are Lightsource bp, Xcel Energy and EVRAZ North America partnering together?

Lightsource bp will be the owner and operator of Bighorn Solar and Xcel Energy will purchase the electricity it generates under a power contract with Lightsource bp. Bighorn Solar will be built on unused land owned by EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel and will power its steel mill. EVRAZ North America is Xcel Energy’s largest retail electric customer in Colorado, and Bighorn Solar is a key part of an agreement between the companies to give the steel mill electricity price certainty through 2041.

 

Who is paying for the installation of the solar system?

Lightsource bp will finance, build, own, operate and maintain the solar system. Xcel Energy pays Lightsource bp for the renewable energy generated by the solar farm at a fixed cost for 20 years.

 

Is there any danger having the solar project in our community? 

A solar project is about as safe as a facility can be. There are no air emissions from the facility. There are no chemicals. The power will leave the solar project on lines just like the power lines in your neighborhood. 

  

 What about glare? 

Glare is produced by reflected sunlight. The more sunlight a solar panel absorbs, the more electricity it can produce. Solar panels are designed to absorb light, and only reflect a small amount of the sunlight that hits them as compared to most other everyday objects. For example, solar panels reflect significantly less light than flat water. 

  

 Are solar farms irreversible development? 

The posts on which the panels are mounted typically take up less than 1% of the land area, with the majority of the site being grassland. At the end of the project the installation will be dismantled and removed without harming the land – we make sure that the land is restored to its original state. 

  

 Will the solar farm cause traffic disruption? 

Once a solar project is in place it requires minimal maintenance vehicles, which would cause no traffic disruption. While the solar farm is being constructed, a traffic management plan will be put in place. 

  

  Are solar panels hazardous to the environment and our health? 

Lightsource bp utilizes tier-one equipment manufacturers, and requires solar panels to pass testing regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure they are not hazardous to people or the environment. It’s a part of our equipment supplier contract obligations, and we will not buy solar panels from any manufacturers who have not passed this testing.  

  

How are the panels kept clean? 

Generally, rainfall helps to keep the panels free of dust and dirt.  

  

  Are solar farms noisy? 

 Solar projects are quiet neighbors. Any sound from the solar projects will be limited to inverters and a transformer which cannot be heard past the project boundaries. 

 

Will solar panels end up in a landfill in my area? 

No – Solar panels used at our solar projects pass rigorous testing to prove they are non-hazardous under federal law and could be disposed of in regular landfills just like household garbage. However, Lightsouce bp is committed to recycling all solar panels for our solar projects in the U.S.  – that includes any panels damaged during construction, operations, and all panels at the end of life/decommissioning. 

 

Will the land be properly maintained? 

During the operational life of the project, Lightsource bp will have a multi-million annual operations budget to maintain the facility and the land. As a long-term owner and operator of the project, we have a significant financial interest to maintain maximum energy production, which involves keeping the vegetation tidy to keep it from interfering with the trackers or shading the panels. 

 

 Do solar projects have any permanent lighting? 

There is virtually no permanent lighting at a solar farm. Motion-activated and down-ward facing lights are located only at gates and at some equipment.