Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oregon Woos Solar Factory with $40+ Million in Loans/Tax Credits

Oregon has been working on a top secret plan, called Project Ready, to lure a California business, Solexant Corporation, to build a solar factory in the Portland area. Though the current plan is to start with a $200 million factory employing about a hundred workers, it "could eventually employ hundreds."

Oregon has sweetened the pot with the prospect of $43.75 million in loans and subsidies.
"Energy officials said an advisory committee would hold a public meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Salem, at 625 Marion St. NE, to consider a $25 million loan to Solexant. The agency has already pre-certified the company for a business-energy tax credit to cover half of $37.5 million in eligible costs."
That's $437,500 per job for the initial 100 employees. One assumes Solexant is open to building in Oregon because California's budget problems don't allow for much in the way of loans and subsidies for new plant builds.

The main problem comes in the prospect that Solexant could "eventually employ hundreds." Then again, maybe not. Consider what happened to another solar plant Oregon lost to Massachusetts in 2007.

Massachusetts lured Evergreen Solar away from Oregon with a subsidy package eventually totaling $58.6 million. As of early 2008 Evergreen had brought 350 jobs to Massachusetts and was looking to increase jobs to 1,000. No such luck. Things started to turn bad in early 2008. After posting losses of $200 million in 2008 and 2009, Evergreen Solar had to transfer most of its panel assembly jobs to China. That's $58 million Massachusetts ended up spending to help job creation in China.

Pixie Dust* industries, like adventures, "are not all pony-rides in May-sunshine." (Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, ch. 2)
*my friend OregonGuy's colorful terminology

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