8Jan

Other States Trolling for California Solar Companies Lure Some In

Saturday | Filed in: Solar Commentary

Recently several California solar companies have jumped across state lines and are taking advantage of manufacturing incentives offer by other states. Good for them! I don’t think that is a bad thing.

We are all Americans and the more states that open the door to solar and its benefits, the safer this country becomes for my grandchildren. This solar energy movement is picking up some steam across the nation and that’s fine by me.

Just as Gov. Jerry Brown begins his term after a pledge to create 500,000 green solar and wind jobs financial incentives are luring some California solar panel manufacturers to expand in other states Joanna Lin writes in a story for California Watch.
This week, two Silicon Valley solar panel manufacturers announced they would build factories in southern states that offered business-friendly conditions and strong clean energy markets.

Stion Solar, based in San Jose California, will invest $500 million to build its new production facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, after the state agreed to a $75 million solar manufacturing loan, and tax and training incentives. AQT Solar of Sunnyvale said it would spend $300 million to open its plant in Blythewood, S.C. The solar companies factories are expected to generate 1,000 jobs each.

And just before the new year, Wisconsin announced $28 million in tax credits to relocate a Chatsworth solar panel firm to the state. W Solar Group Companies, located just outside Los Angeles, expects to create about 620 jobs at its new home in Dane County, Wisconsin.

“Should California worry about a mass exodus?” asked Solar Industry, a trade magazine. The state has embraced the solar industry and is eager to see it expand. But California is facing more competition from other states.

“I would say that California’s solar incentives specifically relating to the mass production of solar panels are improving but not yet competitive to some other states,” Frank Yang, Stion’s senior director of business development. “We hope this will continue to change.”

California has committed $30.6 million in federal stimulus funds to renewable energy solar manufacturing and production. On the campaign trail, Gov. Jerry Brown called clean energy the “key to our economic future,” proposing major investment in solar and wind power and pledging to create half a million green jobs by 2020.

“California is such a wonderful incubator of talent and incubation,” AQT Solar CEO Michael Bartholomeusz told Solar Industry. “They incubate solar companies like us, and then solar companies migrate to other locations.” Stion and AQT Solar say they are not pulling out of the state, where both manufacturers already operate solar plants. Yang said Stion is developing expansion plans for its San Jose solar facility, which currently employs 110 people a tenth of its eventual workforce in Mississippi.

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