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SolarCity officials update their Buffalo manufacturing plans

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Officials from SolarCity came to Buffalo Thursday to update hundreds of local business leaders and other guests on what is one of the city's most anticipated economic development projects.

SolarCity, which currently holds about 40 percent of the market share in solar energy production, is moving forward with plans to build a massive manufacturing center on South Park Avenue in Buffalo's RiverBend development.

"The plant that's going to be built here is going to be the largest facility in North America to do solar manufacturing," said SolarCity vice president Vinayak Gupta. "One of a kind in the world, a gigawatt facility."

Production is expected to begin in the second half of 2016 with the plant going fully operational in 2017. Company officials say when that happens, it will be able to produce up to 10,000 solar panels daily. The plant is expected to employ an estimated 1,500 in manufacturing with hundreds more working in distribution and ancillary needs.

Bids will soon be accepted by companies looking to get involved as suppliers to SolarCity for their manufacturing needs. Local companies are encouraged but Gupta is also hoping SolarCity may be a catalyst to attract more companies into the region.

"I think they will show up here, as we start ramping this along and we require specialized technology," he said.

Gupta pitched not only his company but solar and renewable energy itself.

"This is really the industry of our future. You have to look at renewables as the way of the future."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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