Plans for PV Factory Halted

More than 30 inner city jobs will not reach fruition as plans for a solar cell manufacturing plant were scrapped due to a lack of funding.

Los Angeles, California – November 15, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] Joel Davidson, a solar energy consultant spearheading the project, announced that plans for a new solar electric panel factory in Los Angeles have been halted. Davidson had initially hoped to use the city’s new solar incentives to help get the project off the ground and ensure its economic success. It may only have been a drop in the bucket, but he had also looked forward to doing his part in easing the lack of inner city jobs in Los Angeles. According to Davidson, unemployment for inner-city African-Americans has hovered around 60 percent for decades. “Everyone likes the idea of a solar factory and more inner-city jobs, but we were unable to get the investment money needed for startup,” Davidson said. “The solar market is booming, but some solar companies are automating production and laying off workers. How can people who are out of work buy solar panels? We wanted to reverse this short-sighted trend and create more jobs.” Besides taking advantage of tax incentives designed to stimulate inner city growth, the factory would have benefited from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) solar incentives. The LADWP currently offers an Incentive of US$4.50/watt for all qualified PV equipment. Under the LA Manufacturing Credit program, the incentive for PV systems made by a manufacturer with a Los Angeles PV factory is currently an additional US$1.50/Watt, for a total Incentive of US$6/Watt. Davidson anticipated the plant to produce approximately 3 MW a year. Despite the myriad advantages to starting a factory in LA, without an initial capital infusion of around US$2 million, the factory had to be scrapped. Trepidation over new business investment is at its worst level in the past 40 years said Davidson. Davidson, who has contributed to the conceptual designs of a variety of California solar projects including the Santa Monica Pier, the Anaheim Convention Center and the recently dedicated 81,000 square feet solar carport at the San Diego Naval Base, knows it’s just a matter of time before another project comes his way. They might not create inner city jobs like the factory would have, but they are a step in the right direction, Davidson said. “These projects save millions of dollars in electric bills and do not pollute,” Davidson said. “Society needs more electricity and a cleaner environment so there will be plenty of new solar power projects.”
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