Gov. Cuomo announces $700M solar panel plant in Genesee County

ALABAMA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement of a $700 million solar panel production plant is a plan that’s more than 10 years in the making. And it has the power to turn the Genesee County economy into a solar force across the country.

“But today, you can actually feel the energy change,” Cuomo said. “And you can actually see the transition for upstate New York.”

For too long, upstate New York has been neglected by downstate lawmakers, according to Cuomo.

“Everything was about the past. Everything was about yesterday. And there was very little talk about tomorrow,” Cuomo said.

But the announcement very much looks forward to the future, potentially breathing life into Genesee County — especially a rural community like the town of Alabama. It will turn over 1,200 acres of farmland into a large high tech development park.

1366 Technologies is the first to sign on at the Western New York STAMP, which stands for Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park.

The facility that will be constructed will produce 1 million solar panels each week.

“We want to build a factory that’s going to do more than three gigawatts of wafers (panels) every year,” Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366 Technologies, said. “To put that into perspective, a nuclear power plant generates one gigawatt.”

The location stood out among 300 other choices due to the availability of hydropower, allowing the green facility to stay true to its name. The region also boasts a readily available workforce.

“It’s a huge opportunity, and one that we are collectively now set to seize, and we do that in large part by building the manufacturing facility in this county,” van Mierlo said. “The tremendous talent pool in this region was an important reason to move here. If you want to change the world, then you need talent next to you. And often success depends on who is standing next to you.

Construction is expected to begin by the second quarter of 2016, with completion slated for 2017. That has local residents curious about the future.

Eric Alexander and his family have owned the local store in the town of Alabama since 1972.
He says he’s excited to see a world class factory come to fruition.
“It’s just been a great community for all of us, and it’s just nice to see something that will bring some opportunity of jobs and everything to the area, and hopefully make this community thrive,” Alexander said. “Because we got to have something. All the jobs are going somewhere else. And it’s just not here.”
The county has already bought out several homes along the property’s border. And the state has invested tens of millions into the STAMP project.

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