Yingli eyes Phoenix for solar plant over Austin

Monday, January 11, 2010

By Jacob Dirr Staff Writer
Austin Business Journal

China’s second largest solar company has 4.5 million reasons to build a plant in Phoenix, instead of Austin, taking 300 new jobs to the Valley of the Sun.

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Energy announced Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: YGE) will be awarded $4.5 million to build its first American manufacturing plant in Phoenix.

Yingli, the Texas governor’s office and the Austin Chamber of Commerce declined to comment. Austin city officials could not be reached. But the DOE announcement took Austin-area sources by surprise singulair tablet.

The DOE awards are based on applications Yingli filed Oct. 16, stating it planned to build the plant in Phoenix, a DOE spokeswoman said.

The tax credit rules suggest a company must build a facility in the city it listed in order to receive the money, a DOE spokeswoman said Monday in an email.

If any "change that a reasonable person would conclude might have influenced DOE in recommending or ranking the project" is made, then awards are void, according to the program rules.

The Austin Business Journal reported in October that Yingli had selected Austin as one of five finalists, including San Antonio, to host a photovoltaic panel plant that initially would house about 300 employees.

Sources said the plant would cost $20 million, while Dow Jones has reported it would cost $50 million, citing Robert Petrina, the head of Yingli’s U.S. operations.

San Antonio economic development officials confirmed that their city is out of the running.

Mario Hernandez, president of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, said Yingli focused on Phoenix during the later stages of negotiations.

David Marquez, executive director of economic development Bexar County, said last he knew, Austin was still being considered.

If Yingli has selected Phoenix, it would mark the second time in four months Arizona has landed a major foreign solar company over Austin, which has struggled to land clean-tech businesses.

Suntech Power Holdings Co., China’s largest solar company, announced late last year that they planned to open a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Phoenix.

Sources said Austin made a substantial effort for Suntech, but company officials were not impressed with efforts on the state level.

"We are seeing that most of the clean-tech jobs are depended on heavy subsidies," Hernandez said. "We don’t compare to most states in the incentive process."

JDIRR(at)bizjournals.com | (512) 494-2528

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