April 19, 2011
By: by Richard A. D'Errico, The Business Review
Colorado is making a push for General Electric's $600 million solar plant.
GE announced last week that it planned to build the largest solar plant in the country. It would employ 400 workers.
Victor Abate, who heads GE's renewable energy business, which is based in Schenectady, said at least 10 sites across the country, including the Capital Region, were being considered.
That led Roger Hull, the former Union College president and current candidate for Schenectady mayor, to push for a major effort to lobby GE for the plant.
"We have a golden opportunity to reclaim our legacy as the ‘City that Lights the World' by adding solar cell manufacturing to our region," Hull said, "and we need to show the same effort and enthusiasm we showed when winning GlobalFoundries."
GlobalFoundries is a computer-chip manufacturing company that is building a $4.6 billion plant in Malta, Saratoga County.
But Colorado isn't being passive either. The Denver Business Journal, a sister publication of The Business Review, carries a story that Colorado's Congressional delegation, along with state officials and university leaders, have sent a letter to GE urging the company to locate the plant there.
"Colorado is on the leading edge of clean energy economic development and we can't think of a better place to site such a facility," the letter said.
They point out that Golden, Colo., is home to the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory as well as universities that are developing clean energy technology.
Plus, PrimeStar Solar, the thin-film solar panel company GE recently acquired is based n Arvada, Colo.
Hull gave his own list for locating the plant in the Capital Region, highlighting the recent solar consortium being formed at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Last week, the nanocollege landed $57.5 million to develop solar cell manufacturing processes.
And, as noted, GE's renewable energy is based in Schenectady.
"What better place to put it than where you have the skilled people, the know-how, the natural resources, and an existing green energy commitment," Hull said.