Suniva to Invest in New Solar Manufacturing Facility in Michigan

Oct. 6, 2009
First-in-the-nation photovoltaic credits help land Suniva Inc.

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm announced on Oct. 6 an addition to Michigan's burgeoning clean-energy industrial base as Georgia-based Suniva Inc. will invest $250 million in a new solar manufacturing facility in Saginaw Countys Thomas Township.

Suniva will create 500 new jobs over the next five years subject to receiving a Department of Energy loan guarantee.

"Today we welcome Suniva to our growing list of world-class green manufacturing leaders that are establishing operations here," Granholm said."They're coming here for the skilled workforce, strong work ethic and competitive business climate that are synonymous with Michigan."

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA), on Michigan Economic Development Corporation's recommendation (MEDC), approved a photovoltaic Michigan Business Tax (MBT) credit valued at $15 million over five years. Michigans photovoltaic MBT credit provides a refundable tax credit for the construction and operation of a facility that develops and manufactures photovoltaic technology, photovoltaic systems or photovoltaic energy. Other state and local incentives will be considered at a future date.

"For the United States to reach its potential as a leader in renewable energy, it must support not only new innovative technologies, but also must revitalize its manufacturing base to aid these technologies in achieving swift scale," said John Baumstark, CEO of Suniva.

Suniva Inc. was founded by Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi through his work at the Georgia Institute of Technologys University Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics which was started in 1992. The company manufactures and markets high-efficiency, low-cost photovoltaic cells and markets high power-density modules in its current 100 MW facility in Georgia. Sunivas investors include NEA, Warburg Pincus, and Goldman Sachs.

"This decision by Suniva adds to a five-year total of more than $2.75 billion invested in solar businesses in the Great Lakes Bay Region,Saginaw Future Inc. President JoAnn Crary said.

In other MEGA action, the board today approved incentives to move forward the Wixom transformation project announced last month. Clairvoyant Energy Solar Panel Manufacturing Inc. was granted a photovoltaic MBT credit valued at $25 million over two years, and Xtreme Power Inc. received an advanced-battery credit valued at $100 million over four years.

Clairvoyant Energy and Xtreme Power plan investments of $857 million (over four phases) and $475 million, respectively, to redevelop the 320-acre plant site and its 4.7 million square feet of building space to manufacture solar power (Clairvoyant Energy) and energy-storage systems (Xtreme Power). The redevelopment work at the Wixom site is expected to begin early next year with manufacturing at the site slated to begin in late 2011. The redevelopment plan is expected to create more than 4,000 direct jobs, including 750 direct jobs by Clairvoyant, 2,500 direct jobs by Xtreme Power, and those created by local suppliers as well as thousands of indirect jobs.

Granholm said her administration is working hard to make Michigan the epicenter for green manufacturing. Recently created incentives and programs to support the growth of cutting-edge Michigan companies in this field include first-in-the-nation advanced-battery incentives, the 21st Century Jobs Fund, alternative-energy and high-tech tax credits, renewable-energy Renaissance Zones, Anchor Zone incentives, and Centers of Energy Excellence.

In August, 12 Michigan projects were awarded more than $1.35 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy to expand their advanced-battery manufacturing capabilities in the state.

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