SolarCity to open south Buffalo plant ‘soon after’ June

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The latest earnings report released this week for SolarCity’s parents company Tesla showed increasing losses on increasing sales. But strengthening the company’s bottom line in manufacturing should pay off for production at the massive plant under construction in south Buffalo.

That’s according to Fred Floss, chairman of the Economics and Finance Department at SUNY Buffalo State.

Perhaps the biggest local news that came from the quarterly report and subsequent call with investors was that the production facility on South Park Avenue will open “soon after” the month of June.

That’s when SolarCity is expected to begin production at its first gigawatt plant in Fremont, Calif.

Tesla’s top brass said in a letter to shareholders,

“Rather than prioritizing the growth of MW of solar deployed at any cost, we are selectively deploying projects that have higher margin and generate cash up front. Consequently, solar energy generation deployments in Q1 2017 declined year-over-year, but had better financial results,” the letter stated.

Floss said he expects Tesla’s work in the car manufacturing world to help solar panel production in western New York. But it won’t be without growing pains.

“We should expect it to be a little bit bumpy,” Floss said. “It’s hard to merge two companies together and have a major deal with a third large company and get all of that worked out. So it wouldn’t surprise me that, over the next year or year and a half, that we see a bumpy road until everybody figures out how this is going to work.”

The companies he’s referring to are parent company Tesla, taking over SolarCity and having Panasonic as a partner to help boost its bottom line and ensure there’s enough money to keep the project afloat.

Tesla took over SolarCity in November, and this is the first quarterly report issued with the solar company under its wing.

The plant is expected to open this summer, with full production expected by the end of the year.

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