Just weeks after beating out the competition for a manufacturing plant making a cutting-edge electric vehicle battery, Adams County is in the running to host a solar panel manufacturing facility that could employ nearly 1,000 workers.
The Colorado Economic Development Commission approved nearly $9.2 million in Job Growth Incentive Tax Credits on Thursday morning for Project Pothos, the code name given to a new joint venture between a U.S. and foreign company looking to launch a solar panel manufacturing plant.
Those tax credits are conditioned on the company creating 951 jobs over an eight-year period. The engineering, manufacturing and administrative jobs are expected to pay an average of $71,940 a year or about 110% of the average annual wage in Adams County.
Earlier this month, Amprius Technologies, which has developed a more efficient silicon anode technology for lithium-ion batteries, confirmed it would build a 775,000-square-foot plant in Brighton employing 330 workers initially. The state, which beat out Georgia and Texas, extended $5.49 million in similar tax credits.
The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law last August, provides bigger tax breaks for solar panels, batteries and other renewable energy technology containing more domestically made components. That has created an incentive to domestically make solar panels, a market that China has largely dominated.
“This project would support the state’s economic goals by creating jobs in the economy in the renewable energy sector,” Michelle Hadwiger, director of global business development at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade told commissioners at their monthly meeting.
She said the state award requires the startup to raise $18.75 million in funds, about 75% of the $25 million it plans to raise to get off the ground. An executive of the company at the meeting said the full $25 million had been raised.
The company, which is also considering Texas, said it zeroed in on Adams County because of its proximity to the airport and the I-25, I-70 and I-76 highway corridors, and its more available housing supply. Although the joint venture doesn’t have any employees yet, the U.S. partner employs about 6,000 workers, while the foreign partner employs about 2,000.
Adams County has made some inroads in renewable energy but also has suffered losses. Vestas, a Danish wind turbine maker, announced in February 2021 that it was closing its Brighton blade plant and letting go of 185 workers there.
The second largest incentive award Thursday at $2.3 million went to Project Snowflake, a geohazard mitigation firm that is also considering Adams County for 129 jobs paying an average annual wage of $129,981. The company currently has 740 employees, including 87 in Colorado. About 50 of the jobs are expected within the next three years. Kentucky is also in the running.
A third incentive award, worth $663,383, could help Colorado address its waste tire problem, which ranks as one of the nation’s worst. The recycling company behind Project Molecule is looking at locations in either Weld County or Mississippi for a waste-to-energy plant that will use pyrolysis technology to convert tires and rubber to diesel fuel, recycled carbon black and steel.
The new plant, which is expected to use a nearly zero-emission closed-loop process, is targeting a processing capacity of 150 tons of waste material a day. Starting with around 30 million tires now sitting in a massive monofil in Hudson, and later fed with the 6 million tires disposed of annually in the state, the plant is expected to generate 5.47 million gallons of diesel fuel, 20.8 million kilograms of carbon black and 6.57 million kilograms of steel per year.
About 90 workers earning an average annual wage of $63,340 are expected to staff the facility once it is fully operational.
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