McCarthy Building Companies has started constructing four large-scale solar projects in the southwest U.S. and is targeting Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) compliance.
Once fully commissioned, the projects in different stages of construction will not only bring over 1 GW of renewable energy to communities in Arizona and Texas but also create more than 800 solar construction jobs. Out of the total construction jobs, 200 are expected to be operator, mechanical, and electrical apprenticeships designed to introduce and train new workers in the solar industry.
The four projects are as follows:
- 260 MWdc solar project in Milam County, Texas, expected to be completed by December 2024, will hire at least 50 apprentices and currently has 21 on the project.
- 376 MWdc solar project in Arlington, Arizona, includes a 300 MW battery energy storage system and is expected to be completed in mid-2025. The project will hire at least 50 apprentices and currently has 19 on the project.
- 260 MWdc solar project in Pearsall, Texas, expected to be completed in June 2024, will hire at least 50 apprentices and currently has 33 on the project.
- 217 MWdc solar project in Marana, Arizona, includes a 213 MW battery energy storage system and is expected to be completed in March 2025. The project has started preliminary site work and will hire approximately 50 apprentices on the project.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. is set to add 63 GW of photovoltaic power by the end of 2024, which is an increase of 84% in two years for solar production alone.
“With utility-scale solar construction jobs on the rise around the nation, we are continually working to help local skilled craft workers, veterans, and those displaced from jobs in other sectors to join our solar project teams and receive the training needed to develop rewarding careers in the growing renewable energy sector,” said Scott Canada, Executive Vice President of McCarthy’s Renewable Energy team. “Now, with the IRA, there are federal incentives in place to further support apprenticeship programs that create even more good-paying jobs and expand workforce training pathways into these careers.”
McCarthy developed a U.S. Department of Labor-approved and registered apprenticeship program for workers to earn while receiving both on-the-job training and technical instruction. The firm’s Renewable Energy group updated its U.S. Department of Labor accredited program to include renewable energy occupations and comply with IRA requirements.
McCarthy’s program, which continues from two to four years, pairs apprentices with journey workers to support their development in the first year and requires apprentices to complete 144 hours per year of related instruction to improve their knowledge and skill set.
Graduates not only receive a nationally recognized credential from the U.S. Department of Labor but are also eligible for a wage increase once the apprenticeship is completed.
McCarthy has piloted its solar apprenticeship program and new software on the 209 MWdc solar project in Livingston, Texas, which is expected to be completed in December 2023 to ensure IRA compliance requirements are met on future projects.
The firm has also collaborated with unions in Nevada, Illinois, and California to develop complimentary apprenticeship programs around the nation, complying with Department of Labor and IRA requirements and ensuring unions have access to the industry’s most current technology and equipment.