Diana Barnhart, Milpitas Economic Development Department manager, told the council prior to its vote that the city's $1.5 million no-interest loan would assist with equipment purchases and other costs at the plant. .................... Jim Parker, tax director for SunPower, told the council his 4,000-employee company was celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Six years ago, he added, SunPower generated $75 million in revenues, but in 2009 that figure had grown to $1.5 billion.
"We are the biggest installer and manufacturer of solar technology in the state of California and I believe in the United States of America," Parker said.
Parker added SunPower had built two of the largest solar power plants in North America one at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and the other in Florida's Desoto County.
"The project we're contemplating (in Milpitas) is our first U.S.-based manufacturing operation," Parker said. "We've been looking to do manufacturing in the United States for quite a while, and this is the end of a fairly exhaustive process for us."
He added that SunPower had looked at 20 other states before settling on California, and the Milpitas site.
"It was a combination of looking for the right location, the right incentive package and the right partner, which we've found in Flextronics," Parker said. "And we want to locate this very first U.S. manufacturing site in the city of Milpitas."
He added the new clean tech plant would be "a great message in the wake of the NUMMI plant closure ... which people are calling the bellwether of the death of manufacturing in California. This points us in another direction: Manufacturing in this state is not dead."
Councilwoman Althea Polanski asked what type of clean tech jobs would be created.
Flextronics representatives said the manufacturing jobs would include fabricating glass into solar panels and jobs assembling, testing and shipping those solar panels to customers.
According to the Governor's Office, SunPower's decision, based largely on California's nation-leading green policies and recent actions to give incentives to families and businesses that invest in renewable energy, is expected to add more than 300 jobs to the company's California workforce.
As SunPower CEO Tom Werner explained in the Milpitas press conference, our state and federal leaders are creating a long-term stability to enhance these new energies.
"The governor's leadership," Werner said, "in the California Solar Initiative, the Renewable Portfolio Standard with incentives for green manufacturing equipment along with AB 32 which mandates 33 percent alternatives by 2020 provides the confidence to invest in our home state."