Anyone on here cut solar farms?

gary23

LawnSite Member
I have an opportunity to cut 3 solar sites totaling 330 acres! I have done small commercial but nothing to this scale. They have informed me they want 4 cuts per year at each site and would like pricing per acre mowed.
There is 25’ from post to post and 13’ between the edges of the solar panels so I was thinking of running a large tractor down the middle with a 15’ batwing brush hog. And then running two 72” zero turns to cut around the posts. The solar panels pivot during the day so there is room to go under one side in the morning and one side in the afternoon.

Iwould appreciate any input on pricing and/or equipment on a job like this! Thanks!
We were doing some for around 90 an acre.
 
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OuterSpacesLLC

LawnSite Member
They do want string trimming and no roundup around all the posts. I’m going to measure the exact height when they’re flat tomorrow. I was thinking about charging much higher than 90/acre. On paper that sounds fine but I’m very worried about finding and being able to pay enough guys to weedeat. But numbers like that is super good info to hear.
Are you weedeating at that cost and how long is the job taking you to do with what equipment/labor?
 

Bluffman

LawnSite Member
Location
Minnesota
So no offense to gary23 but $90/acre sounds way too low to me. As I stated, I've not cut solar sites but knowing the conditions, construction of the arrays etc., I wouldn't even consider $90/acre. The thing most of us already know is there will always be somebody else willing (or more stupid) to low ball on pricing. Playing that game will always be a race to the bottom so I avoid that trap at all costs. 330 acres may be high volume work but its also not consistent, day to day work you can easily plan for. Do you have the manpower to mobilize a large 4 times a year project like this? If not, it will likely become a 4 time a year nightmare especially if you're not making money. By all means if you have the numbers worked out and it's an opportunity, I wish you the best and hope it works out well for you.
 
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OuterSpacesLLC

LawnSite Member
Meant to say it’s not nextera. I’ve been looking at hiring temp workers to help with weedeating (like brightview and some of the big companies in my area). I was thinking about throwing out a number around 250-300 per acre. It will probably be a nightmare getting the labor to do the job. I’m expecting that to be the worst part.
 

AlohaMowing

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Hilo, HI
They do want string trimming and no roundup around all the posts.
Those requirements probably bump up the cost by close to 50%.
It will probably be a nightmare getting the labor to do the job.
You said they are looking to have the 330 acres done 4 times/year, but a critical question for the labor and equipment requirements is how much time you would have to complete each mowing. If you can start at one end and take 3 months to get through everything, then immediately restart, this might make for a comfortable full time job for one person.
 

sagesove

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
on this rock
Is it possible to get something like a Holder tractor(they make a few different sizes:extra samll, small, medium and large)between the rows? Then you have implements on the tractor. One is an auto line trimmer. The other is a mower box, either flail or fine cut. They are on articulated arms and can do some pretty amazing work. All the systems are integrated with sensors and safteys and gps. I think they use them to do alot of solar farms in Europe and Africa.

When I get a minute I'll post some vids and the manufacturers links.
 

Bluffman

LawnSite Member
Location
Minnesota
So there's another consideration...equipment. Do you bid on these, get the contract and then find you need specialized or additional equipment that you dump a bunch of money on (or finance). Next year rolls around, you get underbid, lose the contract and your'e left holding the bag on a bunch of used stuff you maybe haven't even paid off? What then...sell it to the guy that undercut you for 25 cents on the dollar? Anyway...I'll stop being Debbie Downer...just thinking out loud in an attempt to help.
 
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OuterSpacesLLC

LawnSite Member
Don’t know anything about Holder tractors, auto string trimmer sounds great. They do want us to get the job done in a couple weeks at each place so not something I can have one or two guys on a site for months at. I would be making sure we get locked into at least a one year contract so I can get equipment paid off. It is a growing industry around me though so hoping this could get me in the door for some of the other ones.

I definitely think it can be a great opportunity but with a lot of question marks so I appreciate hearing everyone’s thoughts about it.
 

Youngandfree

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
VA
Don’t know anything about Holder tractors, auto string trimmer sounds great. They do want us to get the job done in a couple weeks at each place so not something I can have one or two guys on a site for months at. I would be making sure we get locked into at least a one year contract so I can get equipment paid off. It is a growing industry around me though so hoping this could get me in the door for some of the other ones.

I definitely think it can be a great opportunity but with a lot of question marks so I appreciate hearing everyone’s thoughts about it.
I'd shoot for 2 year contract.
 

sagesove

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
on this rock
Just a spitball guess. 333,000.00 for the year all in.
My reference is private wealthy owners properties being cut for half a million for like 250-300 acres of grass. That's every week cut in the mowing season. Just tossing around numbers and ideas.
 

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