Swinerton Solar Energy completion of the LaFayette Solar Farm

Published 9:36 am Friday, December 22, 2017

As a local who became immersed in the intricacies involved in the construction of the 80 megawatt solar farm in LaFayette, it is kind of sad to see the staff who came to be friends leave the area. It is the largest solar farm in Alabama and is equal in size to other megawatt solar farms in the South.

Since approaching the managers of Swinerton Solar Energy, it has been a rewarding experience for this free-lance reporter. I visited the site from the “get go” and was nothing but a nosy pest. But I was never left to feel that I was a nuisance to the managers, the engineers or the supervisors on the job site.  And believe me, they did not have the time to answer my stupid questions, but my interest in acquiring information for publication was never denied.

I went to the solar farm headquarters here in LaFayette this week to request information regarding the success of the project reference its goals and how the management felt about the local community reception of the project and all the construction it entailed. I suggested to overall superintendent David Dzeima that he give me a review.

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The following is superintendent David Dzeima’s response to my request:

1. Our employee count topped out at around 400 people working 7 days a week.

2. Wages ran anywhere from $14 up to $35 per hour depending on the craft.

3. We moved 1.3 million cubic yards of material to get the site graded prior to system installation of 331,632 modules.

4. We moved 15 to 20 thousand cubic yards (average dump truck carries 10 cubic yards per load) of material per day.

5. We encountered 44 rain days within the 184 days of construction.

6. We would like to thank all the restaurants in town that were frequented daily as well as the local NAPA Mitcham’s Auto Parts, LaFayette True Value, and Wayne White with Associated Paper for keeping our office supplies stocked up.

7. Walter and Frank Allen were a tremendous help working 7 days a week right along with us to keep all recycle materials and trash removed from the site — this was essential to our program. 

8. More than 150 of our employees who follow these projects from state to state found rental residence at RV parks and hotels within the local and surrounding communities.

9. W. S. Newell & Sons supported us with a great amount of equipment and Man Power; we could not have done it without them—thank you Justin and group.

10. As the project begins to come to a close, Swinerton would like to say thank you to everyone in Lafayette and surrounding areas for their hospitality and thank everyone who participated in making this job a success.

11. Last but not least we would like to say thanks to you, Bill Frazer, it has been quite the pleasure. We appreciate your dedication to reporting our project as we progressed and never missing a weekly visit. You are truly one of a kind and well respected within this community.

12. Be safe and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s! 

Swinerton Solar Energy, based in California, has construction of solar farms all over the country. David told me part of his staff have already left the area and are underway with construction of a solar farm in Arizona. Also, Swinerton Solar Energy currently has a solar farm being constructed in Virginia.

I feel that the LaFayette Solar Farm construction has been a big asset for the local area. Although we knew the major construction would only be for most of a year, there will be employment for a dozen or so local technicians for years to come.

Thank you, David Dzeima and your staff, for being a part of our community.