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Solar farm still in clearing stage
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Solar farm still in clearing stage

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AL Solar farm (Photo by Bill Frazer)
By Bill Frazer

I visited the field office of the AL Solar Farm reference progress of the local 80 megawatt solar farm. David Dzeima, Senior Superintendent of the local operations for main contractor Swinerton Renewable Energy, brought me up to date on the progress of the installation as of today.

The project is still in the tree clearing, stump removal and burning and grading stages. The current work force as of now has completed 8 miles of silt fence and erosion control measures. There are currently around 40 employees working 6 days a week on 10-hour day shifts. Projection for actually starting to install the system itself is around 2 1/2 months out. Swinerton Renewable Energy is currently hiring mostly equipment operator, truck drivers and a few laborers.

By mid-July the company will be expanding into different crafts and ramping up to around 300 employees of all crafts laborers, electronics, operators and mechanics. The low-end pay scale is $14 and up to $25 per hour. David states that they currently have a security team working 24 hours a day 7 days a week. All of the cameras are in place and they have been able to see a lot of change in the project from its starting point as well as a lot wildlife photos.

Aeroteck is the local labor supplier and their office is located in Birmingham. Interested parties can go online and fill out applications or wait until they have job fairs in around the LaFayette area.

Ironwood is the contractor for the site clearing on the AL Solar Farm. The home base for Ironwood is North Branch, MI. The local Ironwood supervisor for the project is Randy Swanson who has done a remarkable job of clearing, stump removal and leveling of the terrain where solar panels are to be placed.

Currently planting of grass on the site prepared areas is under way. All logging waste and stumps are burned using a fan designed to allow even the green debris to be burned into ashes. The acreage to be seeded will result in a grass cover similar to the grass on a home site.

Sub-contractor for the erosion control is Hydro Green based in Opelika, The seeding of the grass sub-contractor is Central Garden Distribution base in Cullman, AL

No doubt, the major contractor, Swinerton Renewable Energy whose main office is San Diego, strictly complies with national environmental and labor laws.