Get Big Pivots

And a steel mill will come with purchase of the Bighorn solar project at Pueblo now owned by Evraz, the Russian-dominated company 


Owners of Evraz have announced they want to sell their North American properties, including the Rocky Mountain Steel Mill in Pueblo. Part of the operation there is what may still be the largest solar project east of the Rocky Mountains, the 348-megawatt Bighorn project.

The company also has scrap recycling facilities, including one along the banks of the South Platte River north of downtown Denver, in the Globeville area.

The future of the steel mill in Pueblo has been the source of speculation since February when Russia invaded Ukraine. Russians own a majority of the London-listed steel, coal mining, and vanadium business. The majority of the company’s business is in Russia, but it has operations in the United States and three other countries.

Roman Abramovich, who has been affiliated with Vladimir Putin, is the single largest stockholder, with 28.6% of stock in the $13 billion company. North American operations are responsible for $2.36 billion in revenues.

Of this total, North American rail component revenues were $392 million in 2021, according to a rail industry consultant, Bob Cantwell, who was quoted in Railway Age. Most of this revenue comes from supply of rail, with a small percentage from wheels. Evraz enjoys a 48% market share of steel rail in North America from its plant in Pueblo.

To maintain and even expand its market share, the company set out to build a $500 million plant that will produce half-mile-long rails, as the giants among U.S. railroads want. Sources told the Pueblo Chieftain that the long-rail mill is 35% complete and should start production by the end of 2023.

Bighorn solar

The Bighorn solar project was assembled on land owned by the Rocky Mountain Steel, which is owned by Evraz. Photo/sAllen Best

The new mill will be powered primarily by the solar collectors scattered about on the property of the steel mill, even abutting the coal-fired Comanche Generating Station. That agreement was announced in September 2019, although the specifics with Xcel Energy and other partners in the enterprise took some time to work out.

In Pueblo, city leaders expressed confidence in interviews with the Chieftain that the sale will not make a dent in the city’s forward progress.

“The steel mill here in Pueblo has been owned by several owners throughout its existence, but whoever owns it in the future will have a huge asset as a premier steel mill in North America,” said Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar in a statement.

Jeff Shaw, president of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp., said he wasn’t surprised at the prospective sale given the geopolitical tensions, but expressed confidence that Pueblo will not be injured.

Evraz itself has been bounced around hard by its links to the Russian aggression. Along with the European Union, the British government sanctioned Abramovich. The latter provided this assertion: “Evraz is or has been involved in providing financial services, or making available funds, economic resources, goods or technologies that could contribute to destabilising Ukraine or undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine – which includes potentially supplying steel to the Russian Military which may have been used in the production of tanks.”

In an essay published during April in Seeking Alpha under the headline “The Curious Case of Roman Abramovich and Evraz,” Petar Mirkovic took a global view of the company. He described it as an “endurable, well-structured, low-debt, fresh-cash-flow dividend-oriented machine” that was also a highly speculative investment.

The dull money machine, though, was turned upside down by the invasion of Ukraine and the world response. Handsome dividends were curbed, and stock prices slid dramatically.

Abramovich – who also has ties to Aspen, including ownership of a mansion there—was spared opprobrium by the U.S. government because President Joe Biden was persuaded by Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky that Abramovich might be able to help broker a peace. Obviously, he did not.

Taking a view from London, Bloomberg in August reported that his empire there was unraveling in response to the bite of sanctions. Bloomsberg’s wealth index found that Abramovich’s net worth had dropped to $10.7 billion, a decline of 40.5% this year.

As for Evraz, shares in the company had slumped 87% this year before being frozen soon after Abramovich was put on the government’s list. He moved two of his yachts to Turkish waters after the invasion to avoid possible asset seizers in Europe. One of his yachts is 533 feet long, a world record when delivered in 2010.


Pivot Energy to deliver solar to Continuum Partners for downtown Denver hotel

Denver-based Pivot Energy has agreed to deliver 1.45 megawatts of community solar to Continuum Partners for a hotel, offices, shops and an underground parking garage south at 16th and Wewatta in downtown Denver.

System costs and lack of viable rooftop space are often among the greatest barriers to solar adoption. The Pivot Energy community solar subscription presents an opportunity for Continuum to offer its commercial tenants the benefits of low-cost renewable energy without having to install a single solar panel on the property.

Continuum integrated 1.7 megawatts of solar into Belmar, the mixed-used property in Lakewood it developed, the largest commercial array in the United States at that time.

“As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we’ve been reinvigorated in our aim to incorporate renewable energy and other green initiatives into our projects,” said Mark Falcone, the chief executive of Continuum.

Allen Best
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