A green energy future is now! IBEW Local 428 will soon complete the Edwards-Sanborn energy project. This is the largest solar-storage project in the world, and “will produce almost a gigawatt DC from solar photovoltaic panels and store energy with 2,400 MWh of lithium-ion batteries.”
Only a decade ago, the majority of renewable energy projects were “generation only.” The storage capability aspect is changing the game, particularly for union contractors as higher skill levels are required in order to get the job done, which also means higher wages. "Those batteries are a different beast," Local 428 Business Manager Brian Holt said. "They are big, heavy, and require extensive knowledge and safety procedures."
Additionally, journeymen and apprentices will be responsible for installing above and below ground transmission lines, a conversion station, substation, operations and maintenance facilities, tie-in lines and also connecting the solar arrays. All in a day's work! Upon completion, Edwards-Sanborn will power over a quarter million homes.
The cost of lithium batteries has dropped over the past few years, which means an increase in solar-storage projects utilizing this same process - which also means more work for highly skilled electricians. The addition of these batteries also translates to more energy availability at peak times. The renewable-plus-storage market is on the rise. That means more projects, more jobs and a greener future.