New solar manufacturing plant creates jobs, clean affordable energy in California

Source: SunPower Corp

Marking SunPower's (Nasdaq:SPWRA) continued US growth and investment, US. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. will join the company and its partner Flextronics (Nasdaq:FLEX) in dedicating a new solar panel manufacturing facility in Milpitas, Calif. The Flextronics plant has created more than 100 jobs and will produce 75-megawatts (MW) per year of solar power panels for rooftops and power plants. 

Leading the Nation on Renewable Power 

During the dedication event, Governor Brown will sign into law California's expanded Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which will ensure that California customers are served with 33 percent renewable energy by 2020. The RPS legislation was sponsored by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and passed the legislature as part of a special session focused on economic development. 

Economic Footprint Across the Country 

"Strong public policy at both the federal and state levels is paying off with job creation and capital investments from our equipment manufacturers to our dealers that install SunPower systems on homes and businesses across the US and around the world," said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. "We make the world's highest efficiency solar panels with technology developed in Silicon Valley and can now compete with new gas-fired power plants. With the dedication of our solar panel manufacturing facility in partnership with Flextronics, Governor Brown's signing of California's 33 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard and the Department of Energy's SunShot program; we can invest further to make solar competitive with all power sources, lowering long-term energy costs for all customers." 

SunPower, founded more than 25-years ago, is headquartered in Silicon Valley and is the number one manufacturer of installed residential and commercial solar systems in the US. With operations on four continents, SunPower delivers the highest efficiency and most reliable solar panels and systems on the market today. Since 2005, SunPower has created thousands of jobs and is injecting billions of dollars into the American economy. 

• 1,000 employed in SunPower offices and related facilities in San Jose, Richmond, and Milpitas California, and a recently announced expansion in Austin, Texas. 

• 6,000 plus are indirectly employed at more than 400 independent SunPower dealers in more than 300 cities across 41 states. 

• 23 parts suppliers/manufacturers are headquartered in 33 cities across 19 states. 

• Four manufacturers provided equipment for the new Milpitas plant from Ore., Colo., Ill. and Pa.
• 570 large-scale systems in 25 states generating approximately 370 MW of solar power.

Meeting Demand Close to Home 

The new manufacturing location will allow SunPower to quickly and cost-effectively supply panels to solar installations at homes, businesses, schools and power plants throughout the rapidly growing US solar market. One of the SunPower systems that will be served with solar panels from the Milpitas plant is the 250-MW California Solar Valley Ranch (CVSR) in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., the company's first central-station PV power plant. The project is planned to begin construction this summer for which it will hire 350 people. The project will create $315 million in economic benefit to California, power approximately 100,000 homes and help the state achieve its Renewable Portfolio Standard. 

Leveraging Federal Dollars 

Over the past three years, SunPower received approximately $24 million in federal funding to implement improvements across the value chain that reduced costs through the design and manufacture of integrated solar power systems. A half dozen commercialized successes are a direct result of Energy Department research and development assistance, including the design of solar panel manufacturing equipment ordered for the Milpitas facility. As a result of the quality and productivity of the Milpitas equipment set, an identical set of equipment was exported to a solar panel manufacturing facility in Europe. Another innovation developed with Energy Department funding, the SunPower™ T5 Solar Roof Tile, assembled in Richmond, Calif., was the first photovoltaic roof product to combine solar panel, frame and mounting system into a single pre-engineered unit. It was developed and delivered to customers less than two years after the government research and development funding was provided, with Southern California Edison ordering 200 MW over five years. 

Strong Manufacturing Partner 

SunPower's manufacturing partner Flextronics quickly brought the plant on-line with full production less than four months after the first panel was produced, reinforcing that demand for solar power can be quickly accommodated. 

"Flextronics takes great pride in being SunPower's manufacturing partner and in our ability to enable clean energy solutions across the entire breadth of the eco system," said E.C. Sykes, president of Flextronics Industrial. "For us, it's more than just making projects, it's about creating jobs and the benefits that come from clean technologies and solutions that make lives better for everyone."

Solar as an Affordable Clean Energy 

Over the past decade, the cost of solar in general has dramatically reduced with scale by more than 50 percent. Recently, SunPower co-founder Dr. Richard Swanson joined Secretary Chu for the SunShot initiative announcement. SunShot is designed to bring the total costs of utility scale solar energy systems down to roughly $1 per watt. This aggressive action would mean that large scale solar energy costs would be competitive with electricity from existing fossil-fired power plants offering affordable power without incentives. 

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