Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has announced that Aurora, CO has landed the General Electric thin-film solar panel plant that was the focus of an intense competition between several states. Hickenlooper made the eagerly awaited announcement at the Aurora Economic Development Council’s annual dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Denver.
GE will retrofit and expand a 200,000-square-foot former L’Oreal Worldwide warehouse in the Majestic Commercenter. near Interstate 70 and Tower Road. The company plans to start producing panels next year at the $300-million PrimeStar Solar plant, which will employ 355 people. The company hopes to double the building’s size within the next two years.
“With a PrimeStar fabrication plant here, you see a really strong cluster of solar companies emerging in Colorado,” Christine Shapard, executive director of the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association, told the Denver Post. “GE wouldn’t have picked Colorado if we hadn’t had the workforce and the talent that they need. That differentiates Colorado from many other states.”
GE is the biggest name in a growing group of major solar companies calling Colorado home, including Longmont-based Abound Solar, Thornton-based Ascent Solar Technologies and Denver-based Abengoa Solar, which is owned by a Spanish company. The state also is home to the SolarTAC research park in Aurora.
GE announced in April it is investing $600 million in solar technology; it purchases Arvada-based PrimeStar Solar Inc., a thin-film solar panel manufacturer. GE’s panel ouput at the new plant will be based on product development from PrimeStar and could be the largest such PV facilityi n the country. GE said the new facility would eventually generate up to 400 megawatts of annual electricity.