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April 11, 2024 MYR Energy Services Wins 2024 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for Bartonsville Solar Project in Virginia

MYR Group Subsidiary, MYRE, Utilizes Nevados All-Terrain Tracker System to Reduce Erosion & Water Runoff Impacts

Thanks to innovative new technology and a proactive approach to protecting the integrity of the natural landscape, stormwater runoff, and vegetation, MYR Energy Services (MYRE) was awarded the 2024 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for the Bartonsville Solar project in Frederick County, Va.

The substantial, 130-megawatt solar facility spanning 950 acres is located in the historic and essential Conococheague-Opequon and Shenandoah watersheds in northwestern Virginia. Utilizing the innovative Nevados all-terrain solar tracker system for its grading reduction benefits allowed for the Bartonsville Solar project to be built along the natural contours of the landscape. As the construction team, MYRE adhered to permitting guidelines and environmental best practices, ensuring consistent land preservation during construction, especially in areas designated as jurisdictional waters and wetlands.

“It’s truly an honor to be part of a project that has received this award,” MYRE Project Manager Angeline Hannachi said. “It’s a feather in the cap of MYR Group and for all the operations team. It’s great to be able to be leaders in this space and to be able to promote the right way of constructing a solar site. We’re honored to receive the recognition and to be an example to other EPC and solar construction companies.”

Spanning nearly 1,000 acres of former orchards and farmland just north of the Shenandoah Valley, the project encompasses six separate homerun circuits, featuring a total of 41 power blocks and associated power conversion stations. Facing the challenging topography at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains, characterized by hilly terrain, below-grade rock, and karst features, the Bartonsville Solar project was designed using the Nevados all-terrain trackers. This tracker system, utilizing a modular bearing system, adapts to the natural curves of the landscape with minimal required grading, aligning with environmental conservation principles. The site has 315,000 solar panels with 4,100 rows of tracker.

The tracker minimizes grading by allowing for up to 15 degrees of slope in either direction, traversing the landscape and minimizing soil disturbance while preserving topsoil instead of traditional methods, which require grading and moving dirt, greatly altering the natural orientation of the land.

“It just works well for the environment,” MYRE Superintendent Dustin Crawford said. “Why come in and cut out half a million yards of dirt and go put it somewhere else when we can keep the natural lie of the land and build on top of it?”

Beyond the revolutionary all-terrain tracker system, MYRE played a strategic role in implementing best practices to further minimize the environmental impacts typically associated with solar construction. To further mitigate environmental impact, directional boring was employed, reducing the impact on sensitive waters within the site. This additional measure underscores MYRE’s commitment to minimizing disturbance to critical ecological areas and preserving natural ecosystems and biodiversity.

The project’s design also incorporates 28 retention ponds, strategically placed to manage stormwater runoff, which is critical to helping prevent water pollution, reduce flooding, and protect precious drinking water resources. MYRE’s construction team diligently constructed and continues to monitor these ponds and all areas of the site, ensuring effective erosion control and sedimentation prevention.

This comprehensive and proactive approach exemplifies MYRE’s dedication to sustainable and responsible construction practices, actively working to reduce environmental footprints and uphold ecologically sound solutions throughout the development of the Bartonsville Solar project.

“We focused a lot on erosion control, so maintaining and bringing the site back to the exact same way that the land was before we got here,” Crawford said. “That’s the biggest challenge I see with most solar installers and construction companies. We invested resources on the forefront, ensuring we didn’t have those erosions through the array.”

It’s very near and dear to me because I got into this industry for sustainability reasons, for environmental reasons.

– MYRE Project Manager, Angeline Hannachi

The Bartonsville Solar project will also provide long-term environmental benefits to the region, generating 130MWac of clean solar energy. This contributes significantly to reducing reliance on fossil fuels, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigating climate change impacts. According to the Global Energy Monitor, assuming an average capacity factor of 25 percent, the project is anticipated to contribute approximately 284,700 MWh of clean energy annually.

Overall, the Bartonsville Solar project stands out for its pioneering use of cutting-edge technology and construction methods, contributing to the advancement of sustainable solar development practices in the industry while setting a standard for efficiency.

“We’re very proud of winning this award,” Hannachi said. “It’s very near and dear to me because I got into this industry for sustainability reasons, for environmental reasons. We wanted to be mindful of our neighbors. We’re on converted farmland and there are landowners around the property, so whatever happens on this site during construction could impact their land and water. We want to be good neighbors and good stewards of the land we’ve been given to work on.”

By achieving its energy capacity with a more compact footprint, the project underscores a commitment to sustainability and efficient resource utilization. This innovative approach positions the Bartonsville Solar project and MYRE as a model of environmentally conscious and economically viable solar development.

“The project is being noticed, not only by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality but also by the solar industry for the innovative approach to building utility-scale solar plants,” MYRE President Dan Biere said. ”The Nevados tracker is the most terrain adaptable tracker in the industry, and the success of the Bartonsville Solar project will lead to more work for the MYRE solar team.“