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Nation's largest solar company to bring record jobs to Buffalo

Ashley Hirtzel

Governor Andrew Cuomo welcomed one of the world’s largest solar panel companies to the region Tuesday. The California-based business called SolarCity will build be the largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the Western hemisphere at the RiverBend site located in South Buffalo.

The new facility is expected to bring 5,000 jobs to New York State over time, with 3,000 of them in Buffalo. The salaries for the positions will range between $45,000 to over $100,000. The plant will manufacture the most efficient and cheapest solar panels in the world.

SolarCity was leveraged to the city as part of the Buffalo Billion initiative. The company purchased Silevo in June, which originally agreed to locate its operations to the site and bring 850 jobs to the region.

Governor Cuomo says New York State will invest $750,000 to convert the former Republic Steel site along the Buffalo River into a clean energy manufacturing hub for the plant.

“The state owns the facility, the state will own the special equipment, and these manufacturers need to come here to use the equipment that we own. On top of that the company [SolarCity] will be investing $5 million,” said Cuomo.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO
RiverBend site will host SolarCity as its anchor tenant.

The company looked at sites in China, Korea and Europe for its new plant. SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive says they chose Buffalo for a number of reasons.

“Looking at all the different states, it was real important to us to choose a state where the leaders of the state had vision on the importance of sustainable energy. Governor Cuomo and New York clearly have shown that leadership. Then there was selection of Buffalo, you have a real low cost of energy and that was a key component,” said Rive.

RiverBend was created through the Buffalo Billion to leverage high-tech companies to the region. Soraa, a manufacturer of green LED lighting, has also agreed to relocate its operations to the site, creating another 375 jobs.

SolarCity’s 2.5 million square foot plant is expected to be completed in early 2016.