Solar Power, Inc. of Roseville, Calif., does almost everything in solar photovoltaics — from manufacturing and testing to home solar panel installation kits to utility-scale solar farms.
The company is using its expertise to plan two contrasting projects using bonds awarded by Sacramento County. Funded by the Recovery Act, the $24.7 million will finance a facility to build SPI’s solar panels. At a separate location in the county, the company also plans a 16-MW solar array, generating clean energy to be sold to a local utility.
“Once we go place these bonds, the goal is to start construction in August, and then have production out of the facility by the end of the year,” Jeff Pontius, SPI’s vice president says.
The bonds were granted for projects geographically located in an area designated a Recovery Zone because of a need for economic growth. Jeff estimates that construction and installation on both projects will create close to 500 jobs during the next few years. Once the manufacturing facility is complete, SPI projects 105 permanent jobs there.
The factory will be SPI’s second and will double the company’s production capacity to a total of 100 MW-worth of panels a year. Jeff says the timing is right because their current sales potential is exceeding current capacity, and having the new production in the U.S. will also help SPI compete for funding for alternative energy projects that requires products be made in America.
Meanwhile, Jeff says the development of the Sacramento County solar farm project will serve utilities that want to increase their alternative energy production, in part because state-law mandates California to source 33% of its energy from renewable resources by 2020. It’s difficult to find a site for a solar array that meets all of the requirements for solar generation, proximity to transmission lines and other needs, Jeff says. So SPI looked around for key sites that fit the requirements for immediate development.
“Several projects are being announced each week, but not too many are actually getting built in the short-term,” he says. “This [location is] a great immediate fit for the project.”
This story was updated on July 9, 2010 to correct the wattage of the solar array and clarify details about California's renewable energy law.