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Gov Brown Celebrates New Factory in San Diego Enterprise Zone

According to this story in the San Diego North County Times, Governor Brown was on hand together with San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders for the dedication of a solar generator factory which will bring an estimated 450 new jobs to the Enterprise Zone.

According to the story:

The dedication ceremony marked the company’s purchase of a 165,000-square-foot building from Sony Electronics in Rancho Bernardo to build a $150 million factory. Auberton-Herve said the factory would employ 450 people and inject $23 million in sales taxes into the local economy. The factory should be producing the company’s concentrated solar photovoltaic generators by the end of 2012.

“It took a lot of collaboration and a lot of intelligence to get it done,” Brown said of the factory. “That hopefully keeps the dumb ideas to a minimum.”

A string of San Diego power players joined Brown for the ceremony, including San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Assemblyman and mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, California Public Utilities Commissioner Timothy Simon, District Attorney and mayoral candidate Bonnie Dumanis.

The factory came to San Diego as part of a collaborative effort largely spearheaded by Sanders, according to many people involved with the project. San Diego Gas & Electric Co. funneled ratepayer money to the project by agreeing to buy power from a 150-megawatt solar power plant near El Centro that will use Soitec’s technology, and agreeing to five smaller deals with Soitec.

When SDG&E first began discussing the possibility of the larger plant, the utility insisted the company help create jobs in the area, said SDG&E CEO Jessie Knight. By law, all California utilities must buy a third of their power from renewable resources by 2020. SDG&E has contracted for more than 1,000 megawatts of solar power in the last year.

“SDG&E can be a platform for opportunity for economic development in the region,” Knight said.

The company does not have any federal loans or loan guarantees, setting it apart from renowned solar bust Solyndra, a Soitec spokeswoman said. Solyndra, a San Francisco Bay Area solar panel maker, went belly up despite receiving a $535 million loan from the Department of Energy. Soitec is getting the benefit of being in a California Enterprise Zone, which gives it some tax incentives, Sanders said.

“Soitec’s location in San Diego is an example of how San Diego’s cooperative approach can be successful,” Sanders said.

The Governor’s website has a press-release about the event which does not mention the Enterprise Zone, but rather says, “Soitec has not relied on any government funding for this project.”

UPDATE: An official from the City of San Diego contacted me to clarify that the news article was not entirely correct. San Diego is currently working on an expansion to their Enterprise Zone and the new Soitec facility is being built in the planned expansion area. Mayor Sanders meant to indicate that by the time Soitec opens for business, they should be in an Enterprise Zone.

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