SunPower coming to Austin?

While it’s not a manufacturing plant, SunPower, one of the largest solar PV manufacturing and installation companies in the world, is scheduled to open a corporate operations office in Austin, Texas sometime next year, under a proposed economic development agreement with the City of Austin. Under the proposal, SunPower would agree to invest at least $7.5 million in property improvements at the proposed site, as well as $2.5 million in machinery, and create at least 450 jobs over a ten year period. SunPower says all of those job hirings should occur in the next four to five years. In return, they will be eligible for up to $901,710 in grants, in addition to a grant of $2.5 million from the State of Texas.

The agreement will go to City Council next Thursday at 4 PM for a public hearing and possible action. The proposal is the second involving a solar company and Austin. Earlier this  year, Chinese PV manufacturer Yingli Solar announced it was considering opening up an assembly factory in Austin. While City Council did approve that proposed economic development agreement with Yingli, the Chinese company later decided to wait until announcing whether it will go ahead with its plans for a US assembly operations.

Austin is also home to solar companies like Heliovolt, which makes building intergrated solar products, and SolarBridge Technologies, which makes the micro inverters that can go on the back of solar panels.

Analysts say that if the Texas legislature were to approve legislation creating either incentives for solar power, or expanding the Renewable Portfolio Standard to favor solar, many more companies might be willing to locate throughout Texas, creating jobs in the Clean Energy economy.

Recently, as reported here on this blog, a company called Juwi Solar recently opened Texas’s first major utility-scale solar plant, just south of downtown San Antonio.

Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director, Lone Star Chapter

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