Solar company to build Pataskala factory that will employ 850
A solar company announced on Friday plans to build one of the largest solar panel manufacturing factories in the U.S. in Pataskala, a project that will create 850 jobs and comes just as construction of solar farms ramps up in Ohio.
Illuminate USA has committed to investing $220 million in the Licking County community for a 1.1 million-square-foot factory.
Operations are expected to start by year-end, and Illuminate USA will begin hiring administrative, assembly and engineering jobs this spring.
The company is a new joint venture between renewable energy company Invenergy, a Chicago-based developer of several solar projects in Ohio, and Chinese solar panel manufacturer Longi.
Investment company has Columbus presence
One of Invenergy’s projects is the 2,400-acre Pleasant Prairie Solar Energy project planned for Pleasant and Prairie townships in western Franklin County that includes 900 acres from Darby Dan Farms belonging to the Galbreath family.
The state has about 50 solar farms in some stage of development or recently completed.
“As an American company and a leading developer and operator of solar projects in the U.S., we recognize the importance of having a strong domestic supply chain to meet the fast-growing demand for affordable solar power,” Art Fletcher, executive vice president of global sourcing at Invenergy, said in a statement.
“This investment is beneficial for the company, the region and the community, and we foresee a long-standing partnership between all involved,” Pataskala Mayor Mike Compton said in a statement.
JobsOhio, the state’s economic development arm, will provide financial support for the project. That assistance will be made public after a final agreement is executed.
“Illuminate USA’s investment is a critical step to establishing a more complete solar power supply chain in the United States as market demand for clean energy grows,” said J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio president and CEO.
Invenergy says it will invest a total of $600 million in the joint venture.
Factory latest manufacturing win for state
Construction will start next month. The factory will be developed in an existing industrial building at 3600 Etna Parkway.
The project will create 150 construction jobs. When complete, it will deliver up to 5 gigawatts of solar module capacity per year.
For context on the plant’s size, 5 gigawatts is almost half of total U.S. utility-scale solar installation last year and is capable to powering nearly 1 million homes.
The project is another manufacturing win for a state that has landed Intel, a major Honda expansion, Abbott and other projects in the past year. More broadly, the project is part of an effort to bring manufacturing back to the U.S.
In the case of solar panels, most of the supply is from outside of the U.S., and that has created supply chain bottlenecks.
Illuminate will become the second major solar manufacturer in Ohio. First Solar set up shop in Perrysburg, near Toledo, in 2002, and has been expanding its operations in the region since.