11/8/2014 8:29:30 AM

The Buffalo News: SolarCity factory could grow again if company needs to expand

The Buffalo News

The solar panel factory slated for a former brownfield site in South Buffalo already is five times more massive than originally planned.

If the Cuomo administration has its way, the project could get another five times bigger still.

SolarCity, the California solar energy company, will bring 2,900 jobs to a $750 million factory the state is building for the company at the RiverBend industrial site, a project that grew from its initial, 200-megawatt capacity to 1 gigawatt, an amount that can power 750,000 homes.

Now, the state has reached an agreement with SolarCity that gives New York a four-month window to negotiate exclusively a deal to locate a bigger factory – with a capacity of up to 5 gigawatts – at the same site, if the company gets to the point where it needs to expand further, according to a copy of the contract filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

State officials say the agreement giving New York the first chance to win the second, larger production facility shows the long-term potential of the RiverBend project, which is fueled by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s signature economic-development initiative.

“This is the governor’s doing. He wanted to make sure that his investments under the Buffalo Billion are constant and ongoing for the next 10, 15 years,” said Alain E. Kaloyeros, chief executive officer of SUNY Polytechnic Institute and a point person for the state’s high-tech ventures in Buffalo.

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