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Solar module factory moving forward at McClellan Business Park


Solar module factory moving forward at McClellan Business Park

Renovations are underway at the site of a planned solar module factory at McClellan Business Park that’s expected to bring more than 200 jobs to the region.

The factory, off Urbani Way on the former Air Force base, is scheduled to begin full production in March, according to Sally Zhou, chairwoman of Sunergy America LLC.

Sunergy California, which is a subsidiary of Nanjing, China-based solar cell manufacturer China Sunergy Co., is leasing the 140,000-square-foot manufacturing building that was previously a plant where J.C. Penney Co. made window coverings.

Back in February, company representatives said the factory was expected to open in mid-September. That date has been pushed back to test the factory equipment that will be used.

The first conveyors began arriving this month at the site, Zhou said, adding that trial production runs are expected to happen around the end of February.

Although crews are currently on site preparing the building, Zhou said hiring for the 200 operator jobs will begin in December.

Sunergy was granted sales and use tax exclusions by the state in June. According to documents from the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority, based on an estimated maximum $7.8 million in equipment purchases over three years for the McClellan site, Sunergy will receive $658,721 in sales and use tax exclusions.

The state estimated the project will bring $5.9 million in net benefits for California, based on added jobs, environmental benefits derived from the solar photovoltaic modules, personal income taxes paid by employees, firm taxes on profits, property taxes and other indirect benefits.

The plant will have two automatic solar photovoltaic production lines, according to state documents. The plant will produce solar modules for residential and commercial rooftop projects, and utility-scale projects.

In February, Sunergy announced it was choosing Sacramento as the site of its first U.S. facility, citing California’s prominent role in the solar industry and savings on logistics costs. The company had considered other potential sites on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

Groups that played roles in putting the deal together included the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, the Sacramento County Economic Development Department, the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

Founded in 2004, China Sunergy designs, manufactures and delivers solar cells and modules globally from production centers in China, Turkey, South Korea and Vietnam. It also invests in solar projects.