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First Solar to build new manufacturing plant in northwest Ohio

First Solar to build new manufacturing plant in northwest Ohio
First Solar Inc. plans to build a new solar panel manufacturing facility near its North American factory complex in Perrysburg Township, a move that’s expected to create 500 jobs.

The Tempe, Ariz.-based company in an announcement Thursday said the expansion plan calls for a $400 million, 1 million-square-foot facility in Lake Township, just east of Perrysburg Township in Wood County. Construction is expected to begin mid-year and the site should be able to reach full production in late 2019, a news release said.

The company began in Toledo and has its flagship site in Perrysburg Township, the largest solar panel manufacturing facility in the U.S. First Solar also has manufacturing facilities in Malaysia and Vietnam.

“First Solar started in the Toledo area and our first manufacturing facility was in Perrysburg,” spokesman Steve Krum said. “We’re really excited to be able to bring U.S. manufacturing growth to northwest Ohio.”

The new facility will produce the company’s relatively new Series 6 solar panel, which has thin-film solar panels that are three times the size of the previous model, the Series 4. Last year the company invested $175 million into retooling its existing Perrysburg Township plant to produce the Series 6 product.

“The continued, sustained demand validates that we can make and sell more, so that’s what’s driving this decision to build an additional factory that will also make the Series 6,” Mr. Krum said.

Once the new plant is complete, First Solar will produce enough panels at its two sites to generate 1.8 gigawatts of power annually. That’s three times the 600 megawatts of annual power its panels produce now.

The company laid off 350 workers when it slowed production last year to convert to building the new Series 6, but Mr. Krum said there soon will be a need for those jobs again, and then some.

Glenn Richardson, JobsOhio managing director for advanced manufacturing, called the expansion “great news for the area.”

“While it’s always difficult to see companies have to reduce their force, it’s great to see that they were able to retool so quickly and produce components that the market is now looking at as very much in demand,” he said. “I think the 500 jobs is just a start.”

Mr. Krum said the new jobs will be a combination of professional engineers and manufacturing technicians, with an average annual salary of $60,000.

The Lake Township plant is contingent on confirmation of state and local incentive packages still under negotiation, Mr. Krum said.

First Solar’s panels are for commercial, industrial, and utility-scale use, and are used by large utility solar farms, on public buildings, and at off-grid industrial sites.

The company does not make panels for personal consumer use or on rooftops of private homes.

Nationally, solar energy is expected to more than double over the next five years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Although the 10.6 gigawatts of solar-generated capacity in 2017 was down from the record-setting 15 gigawatts in 2016, it still marked a 40 percent increase over 2015’s installation total and was the second consecutive year for double-digit increases. As of now, the industry has installed 53.3 gigawatts, enough to power 10.1 million American homes, the trade group said recently.

Ross Hopper, SEIA president and chief executive officer, said he was especially encouraged by the “increasing geographic diversity in states deploying solar, from the Southeast to the Midwest, that led to a double-digit increase in total capacity.”

Ohio ranked 29th for new solar installations in 2017, according to SEIA’s latest report.

Recent applications for new construction filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board shows solar is coming on strong in this state, with supporters pointing to Gov. John Kasich’s decision in late 2016 not to extend the controversial two-year ban on renewable energy mandates he signed into law in 2014.

Bowling Green currently has the state’s largest solar farm, with 85,000 solar panels erected across 165 acres.

But the state power board has approved plans by Hardin Solar Energy LLC to build one in Hardin County, to be known as the Hardin Solar Center, that will be seven times larger.

It also has approved plans by Blue Planet Renewable Energy LLC for a project east of Cincinnati called Hillcrest Solar I that is to be six times larger than the Bowling Green project. The board is also reviewing an application for a large project that would be in Vinton County, southeast of Columbus.

Staff writer Tom Henry contributed to this report.

Contact Sarah Elms at selms@theblade.com419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

 Source:  Toledo Blade

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First Solar Press Release:

First Solar Announces New U.S. Manufacturing Plant

500 new jobs in Ohio, $400 million capital investment

Production facility will triple company’s U.S. capacity

TEMPE, Ariz., April 26, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq:FSLR) today announced plans to build a new solar module manufacturing facility near its existing Perrysburg, Ohio flagship plant. The 1.2 gigawatt factory is expected to create 500 new jobs in northwestern Ohio, and will produce the company’s advanced technology Series 6 thin film photovoltaic (PV) module.

The expansion plan calls for a 1 million square foot facility located in Lake Township, Ohio, a short distance from First Solar’s Perrysburg site, with construction expected to begin in mid-2018 and entering full production mode in late 2019 with an expected annualized capacity of 1.2GW. The plan is contingent on confirmation of state and local incentive packages currently in negotiation.

With the current plant’s Series 6 manufacturing capacity of 600MW and the announced expansion, First Solar’s annualized U.S. manufacturing capacity for thin film PV solar modules will total 1.8 GW. First Solar is the nation’s largest manufacturer of PV modules.

“Strong demand in the U.S. for advanced solar technology, along with recent changes in U.S. corporate tax policies, have encouraged our decision to grow First Solar’s U.S. production operations,” said Mike Koralewski, First Solar’s Senior Vice President of Global Manufacturing. “State and local officials and JobsOhio have also worked with us to create a business-friendly environment that supported our objectives. These factors, combined with our own economies of scale in high tech manufacturing, make expanding U.S. operations an attractive, win-win opportunity.”

Koralewski said the capital investment for the expansion will be approximately $400 million, with a workforce of approximately 500 associates and an annual payroll of approximately $30 million.  He also indicated First Solar has options for potential further manufacturing expansion in the future, depending on sustained U.S. demand for advanced solar technology.

“Expanding our U.S. manufacturing is particularly exciting,” said Tymen de Jong, First Solar’s Chief Operating Officer.  “We originated in Ohio, and we’re proud to build on that history as we grow into the future.”

In 2017, the company invested $175 million into retooling the original Perrysburg plant for production of its new Series 6 product. This April, the facility re-started an idled Series 4 production line to meet continued demand for that product.

Since its inception, First Solar has invested approximately $3 billion in Ohio, including wages paid, manufacturing purchases, research & development costs and taxes. The flagship Perrysburg plant is the largest solar manufacturing facility in the United States, working with more than 250 U.S. suppliers and indirectly supporting more than 4,000 jobs across Ohio. First Solar was formed in 1999, and established its first manufacturing facility in Perrysburg. Full-scale commercial production of thin film photovoltaic solar modules began in 2002. With production facilities in the U.S., Malaysia and Vietnam, First Solar has sold more than 17GW of solar modules providing clean, renewable energy worldwide.

About First Solar, Inc.
First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology. The company’s integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit www.firstsolar.com.

For First Solar Investors
This release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the construction of a new U.S. solar module manufacturing facility.  These forward-looking statements are often characterized by the use of words such as “estimate,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “project,” “plan,” “intend,” “seek,” “believe,” “forecast,” “foresee,” “likely,” “may,” “should,” “goal,” “target,” “might,” “will,” “could,” “predict,” “continue” and the negative or plural of these words and other comparable terminology. Forward-looking statements are only predictions based on our current expectations and our projections about future events and therefore speak only as of the date of this release. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements for any reason, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, the matters discussed under the captions “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Results of Operations” of our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and our subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, as supplemented by our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Contacts

First Solar Media
Steve Krum
+1 602-427-3359
steve.krum@firstsolar.com

First Solar Investors
Stephen Haymore
+1 602-414-9315
stephen.haymore@firstsolar.com

SOURCE: First Solar, Inc.

 

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Source: First Solar, Inc.

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