Goodyear in the West Valley has been selected as the location for the first U.S. solar panel manufacturing plant by Suntech Power Holdings, a large China-based producer of solar energy equipment.
The much-anticipated announcement was made Wednesday by the company at a solar energy conference in downtown Phoenix.
Suntech announced on Nov. 15 that it would set up its first American manufacturing plant in the Phoenix area but did not designate the specific location.
Goodyear was one of six Valley cities considered by the company for the plant, which will initially employ 70 people.
The announcement was a loss for East Valley cities Chandler and Tempe, which reportedly had been in the running.
The plant, which is expected to begin production in September, will supply solar modules to the North American market with an initial annual production capacity of 30 megawatts, Suntech said.
The Wuxi, China-based company said it chose Goodyear because of the state's supportive solar policies for both utility-scale and rooftop installations, the Valley's supportive business climate and the availability of local manufacturing-ready buildings.
"Taking the step to bring manufacturing to the U.S. is a strategic move for our North American business, and we're focused on making the most of our investment," said Steven Chan, Suntech America's chief strategy officer. "Having a facility here in the U.S. will ... reduce the time, costs and greenhouse gas emissions associated with shipping panels from overseas."
Suntech is one of several companies considering setting up solar manufacturing facilities in Arizona following the state Legislature's approval of refundable tax credits and property tax reductions for solar companies that set up operations in the state.
Suntech will be one of the first companies eligible for the tax breaks, which went into effect Jan. 1, officials said.