Solar Builder

JAN-FEB 2019

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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SOLARBUILDERMAG.COM | 35 T he solar division of Horne Brothers Construction is hitting its stride in today's hot market. Based in Fayetteville, N.C., the division has expanded from around 30 employees to over 400 in just three years. The highly specialized company handles everything from driving piles and installing racking and modules to land clearing and erosion control. "Many of the companies we work for started in the solar industry around the same time we did, and as their needs expanded, so did our services," explains Tom Kosto, EVP of solar for Horne Brothers. "They're working on multiple projects all over the country and by virtue, so are we." Keeping busy in Texas While Horne Brothers have projects happening all over the country, Texas has been the hotbed of activity for the company over the last two years. Kosto says last summer his team was working near Sherman, Texas, constructing five new solar farms that produce approximately 75 MW. This year, Horne Brothers is working around Sherman, Greenville, Waco, Wallace, Warren and Beasley. "We're working our way toward Houston, and when we wrap up the last one, we'll have completed 100 MW in 2018 in Texas alone," Kosto adds. The majority of the work is being done for the same customer, Cypress Creek Renewables. As one of the nation's leading utility and community-scale solar companies, Cypress Creek Renewables has worked on more than 250 projects and has 2.3 GW of solar facilities currently deployed across the United States. The company is responsible for developing, financing, constructing and operating each of the facilities. The relationship Horne Brothers has formed with Cypress Creek Renewables has proven to be advantageous for both companies as well as the communities where each project is being located. "Cypress Creek Renewables continues to grow, just like we do, but the number of jobs created doesn't stop there," Kosto says. "Each project has a need for local labor during construction, and sustainable new revenue streams are created in every community. Solar is a huge win for everyone involved." Equipment driving efficiency Texas isn't the only place that Horne Brothers has crews working. The company's workforce is spread out across the nation, working at 30 different solar farm sites. In 2017, Horne Brothers installed 800 MW across 5,600 acres, and at presstime was on track to do more in 2018. To get all of the work done, Horne Brothers rely on specialized teams to perform different phases of the job. A land-clearing crew is usually the first team in on most new jobs. They are responsible for clearing brush and trees. After the perimeter is cleared, the next team comes in with dozers and graders to verify the site has proper drainage and controlled erosion. Once that phase is complete, construction of the racking can begin. "Driving the piles can be a pretty involved process," Kosto explains. "For example, on the average 14-MW site, we'll have to drive approximately 4,500 piles into the ground, and the spacing between each one has to be exact. Our team has it down to a science. In fact, it's one of the fastest phases of any job." The Horne Brothers solar division operates more than 35 pile drivers with the Vermeer PD10 pile driver representing the majority of its fleet. P ile on Horne Brothers Construction explains the dramatic growth of its solar division By Kayla Breja

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