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Solar cell plant to open in New Mexico, if it gets federal loan guarantee

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Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) - Maxeon Solar Technologies is likely to open a more than $1 billion solar cell and manufacturing center in Mesa del Sol, according to a press release from New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office.

The Singapore-based manufacturing company announced the plans Thursday. It will follow through if it can get a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, according to ABC News.

The plans involve constructing a 1.9-million-square-foot complex that would be the first commercial-scale solar cell manufacturer in the country. It would employ up to 1,800 people and bring $4.2 billion in investment to the state, according to the release.

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“I am proud to welcome Maxeon Solar Technologies’ first US-based manufacturing facility to New Mexico,” Governor Lujan Grisham said. “This private investment shows how our state programs, paired with President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, have charted a path for New Mexico as a leader in growing the clean energy economy and creating a strong workforce for the future.”

The facility would be twice the size of the largest existing silicon solar manufacturing facility in the United States.

“We undertook an intensive process to assess sites across the nation to find the right home for our first U.S. manufacturing facility, which includes solar cell fabrication and panel assembly. New Mexico had everything we were looking for: a strong business-friendly climate, supportive infrastructure, focus on workforce development, and deep roots in energy leadership,” Maxeon Solar Technologies CEO Bill Mulligan said. “We applaud Governor Lujan Grisham and her staff for their vision to create clean energy highly-skilled jobs here to support the much-needed expansion of a domestic supply chain.”

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The project will likely begin next year on 160 acres of land in Mesa del Sol.

The facility is expected to produce eight million solar panels per year, the release said.

“New Mexico has seen tremendous employment growth over the past year, and the challenge now is to help workers tap into the Governor’s tuition-free college initiatives so they can learn new skills and earn higher wages,” Deputy Secretary Jon Clark of the New Mexico Economic Development Department said. “Maxeon’s partnerships with higher education is the way forward as we build a more diverse economy and resilient workforce in New Mexico.”

If Maxeon follows through with its plans, the facility will serve both the utility scale power plant market and distributed generation rooftop applications, according to the release.