Official: SolarCity Gigafactory Coming To New York

OCT 12 2014 BY MARK KANE 37

Silevo’s Triex cell

Silevo’s Triex cell

The SolarCity Gigafactory announced approximately three months ago is now officially confirmed to land in New York.

SolarCity intends to build a factory with 1 gigawatt of annual solar capacity at full production.

Photovoltaic modules are expected to be high efficiency with prices below typical to achieve the lowest cost per installed kW. At least this is why SolarCity bought photovoltaic cell developer Silevo.

The SolarCity Gigafactory complex will be built at the RiverBend site in South Buffalo. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was present to officially break ground on the project on September 23.

The goal for the state is nearly 5,000 jobs, including over 3,000 in Buffalo.

“Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new, one million-square-foot site for the future SolarCity GigaFactory facility, which will manufacture solar panels at the RiverBend site in South Buffalo. The Governor was in Buffalo today to officially break ground on the project, which will create more than 3,000 jobs in Western New York alone and a total of nearly 5,000 jobs in the state. The SolarCity facility will be the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, with more than 1 gigawatt of annual solar capacity when it reaches full production.”

“The SolarCity GigaFactory will be located at the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend, a new START-UP NY site owned by the State University of New York’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Since RiverBend was first unveiled in November 2013 by Governor Cuomo, SolarCity purchased Silevo, one of the designated anchor RiverBend tenants, and assumed an agreement with the State to increase more than fivefold the manufacturing capability of the clean energy facility. Silevo is a company that develops and manufactures high-efficiency silicon solar cells and modules.”

How much will it cost SolarCity? According to the press release, the company will spend $5 billion over the next 10 years. Again sounds similar to Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory.

New York State will invest a total of $750 million or $150,000 per job (at 5,000 jobs).

“SolarCity, the nation’s largest solar power provider, will spend $5 billion over the next decade in connection with the creation and operation of the facility in New York, and New York State will invest a total of $750 million through the Buffalo Billion and other state resources to establish infrastructure, construct the 1.2 million square foot facility and purchase required equipment. The state investment will replicate the model created in Albany at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, in which rather than giving money directly to private companies, the State invests in core infrastructure and equipment and uses that equipment as the incentive to attract companies to establish themselves in these new high-tech facilities. The factory will be online and in high volume manufacturing as early as the first quarter of 2016.

SolarCity’s decision to invest and grow in Western New York comes on the heels of the highest-ever number of jobs in the state, with a count of 7.6 million. In August alone, Buffalo added 4,100 positions out of a statewide total of 137,100. SolarCity will create over 1,450 direct manufacturing jobs at the new facility, and employ more than 2,000 additional workers in the state to provide solar services in the next five years. The facility will create more than 1,400 manufacturing support and service provider jobs in addition to the jobs that SolarCity creates directly.”

Here we have all the quotes and a lot of videos:

Governor Cuomo stated:

 “We said four years ago that we have to change the mentality of Buffalo, and every day since we have been working hard to continue this new energy and momentum in Western New York. Less than a year after announcing our original plan, one of the leading solar companies in the world is coming on board and making this the largest advancement for Buffalo’s economy in a generation. This is bigger than anything we could have imagined. It is the perfect metaphor for Buffalo, where the fundamental strength was the available hydropower. That hydropower now, that renewable energy now, will fuel the renewable energy industry for the future. I am incredibly proud that the state is playing a role in this project, because Buffalo’s future is New York’s future, and today that future is brighter than ever.”

SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive commented:

“Governor Cuomo shares our view that the United States can return to its place atop the world in advanced technology manufacturing. Thanks to the Governor’s leadership, we will be able to quintuple the output capacity and economic impact of Silevo’s original commitment. I couldn’t be more excited to partner with the state to make Western New York a global capital for clean energy development.”

Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, Chief Executive Officer and Officer in Charge of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, remarked:

“This is a crowning achievement for Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative and his strategic vision to bolster New York’s burgeoning high-tech economy. Under the Governor’s leadership, the nanotechnology boom that began at CNSE in Albany has now spread clear across the state, creating tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investments. Partnering with a global powerhouse like SolarCity on such a tremendous scale solidifies New York’s reputation as a world leader in next generation technology development and establishes Buffalo as the epicenter for solar panel manufacturing. As we have seen at our other technology hubs across the state, this will spur significant additional growth and investment. We congratulate Governor Cuomo, SolarCity and the people of Western New York, who are truly the region’s greatest resource. We look forward to building the future together.”

Howard Zemsky, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and Larkin Development Group Managing Partner, said:

“We have the workforce and the universities that make Buffalo a great place for advanced manufacturing. RiverBend is a definitive sign of Western New York’s transformation and resurgence.”

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-chair and President of the University at Buffalo Satish K. Tripathi said:

“RiverBend brings our region the jobs of the future that will provide a new generation with another great reason to move or stay in the area.

State Senator Timothy M. Kennedy commented:

“When Governor Cuomo came to Buffalo last November to announce the Riverbend site, we were ecstatic at the prospect of the 900 jobs promised. But now, with the announcement of 3,000 good-paying jobs coming to Buffalo, more jobs than anyone thought possible, Buffalo’s future is brighter and stronger than ever before. This project teams up one of the most dynamic companies in America, SolarCity, with what is quickly becoming one of the most business-friendly states in the country, New York State. This project would not have happened without Governor Cuomo’s continued support for Western New York in conjunction with his Buffalo Billion initiative. This is a new and exciting day for Buffalo, and I am very proud to support this project.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said:

“The excitement accompanying SolarCity’s investment in Erie County, with a $5 billion investment and 3,000 local jobs, builds on the drumbeat of positive news that’s being heard all across our region. Unemployment is down, population is up, and the word is getting out that Erie County is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. After years of difficult circumstances and growing pains, Buffalo is back and ready to do business in the new world economy. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and private partners like SolarCity who are a part of this resurgence, our brightest days are ahead.”

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown stated:

This is what it’s all about – putting shovels in the ground and people to work right now. This game changing project at the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Hub at Riverbend will create over 1,000 new jobs, strengthening Buffalo’s economy and continuing the economic transformation taking place in our city. I’m grateful for the partnership with Governor Andrew Cuomo. By working together, we share a vision and commitment to Buffalo, providing the right resources to support critical redevelopment at this remediated site and others that will deliver new opportunities for Buffalo. Today has been a long time coming but now that it has arrived, we have SolarCity coming to Buffalo. What another great moment in Buffalo’s history.”

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37 Comments on "Official: SolarCity Gigafactory Coming To New York"

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Hope both the solar and the battery gigafactory complement each other and establish economy of scale for hoke storage.


Didn’t the site labelled Tifft Nature preserve??
What was that?

The second video says that the $750 million NY state is investing doesn’t include the 10 years of MASSIVE state and local tax breaks SolarCity is receiving. The video states that “NY state . . . will invest a total of $750 million to establish infrastructure, construct the massive facility, and purchase equipment. . . .” Under the Start-Up NY program, SolarCity will “Pay zero taxes for 10 years: No business, corporate, sales, property, state or local taxes and no franchise fees. AND NO INCOME TAX for the company OR ITS EMPLOYEES. Ten full years of savings.” [emphasis added] NY has a very high income tax, by the way. Will this allow SolarCity to pay its factory workers lower wagers that are in effect subsidized by the state? Meanwhile, SolarCity’s high-paid executives with their fat bonuses will be laughing all the way to the bank. What’s the cost of the tax breaks? What’s the cost per permanent job created when you include the 10 years of tax breaks? It’s a heck of a lot more than the paltry $150,000 touted in this article. The first video states (second video confirms) that “the state will own the building and… Read more »

It’s not like other industries (that don’t need it) get massive handouts from the government (hint: big oil). So, this seems fair to me (and actually miniscule in comparison).

And I’m sure SolarCity’s “high-paid executives” only got into the business because it is soooo lucrative. Solar panels are eeasssy money, yessir. That’s why everyone is doing it.


“And I’m sure SolarCity’s “high-paid executives” only got into the business because it is soooo lucrative.”

Or nepotism. SolarCity’s CEO, Lydon Rive, is Elon Musk’s first cousin. Elon couldn’t clone himself, so he did the next best thing: he hired someone who shares a lot of his DNA. Elon Musk and Lydon Rive’s mothers are twins (I’m assuming identical twins).

I’m sure Solindra’s execs are living well on the paychecks they received while working at that company.

Can you tell me which Big Oil execs receive tax breaks wiping out their personal state income taxes? Do tell.


Green clean electricity from solar panels are, with BEV the worst nightmare of oil companies …and your comment smells …


Opinions are like a-holes. Everybody has one and yours really stinks. 😉


So tell me about your motivation to bitch SolarCity? You’re a jealous relative? You are a knight in shining armor protecting the citizen’s taxes against … Clean energy ? Jobs? Loss of big oil market shares?
Tell me my friend.


Are you complaining as loudly in the “” comment section (assuming there was such a thing) about the BILLIONS in tax subsidies the oil industry receives annually? (Not to mention all the “free” wars and American lives that are given that the industry receives to protect their oil sources.) All this for an industry that rakes in record profits year after year (and profits even more in times of war to boot)!

No complaining about that? Oh, what a surprise. You obviously have an anti-solar agenda. If you TRULY cared about what you’re whining about here, then you’d be complaining everywhere about the same principle (that no industry should receive government funding).

In any case, if we were to start with an industry that should be the first to deserve to lose any government funding, it would be the oil industry — they are fine on their own. It’s bad for our country. It’s bad for the world. I know it won’t happen overnight, but I’m glad to support anything that encourages an eventual switch away from oil.


“. . . but I’m glad to support anything that encourages an eventual switch away from oil.”

Evan when subsidies become overly generous and taxpayer money can be spent in other ways that better encourage the switch away from oil and that give more bang for the buck?

For the record, I am a very strong proponent of EV’s, solar PV, and energy security. I too want the world to switch away from oil, coal, and fossil fuels. Eliminating Russia’s oil profits and power base is an added bonus.

I am also a NY state taxpayer and want to know if this deal is a net benefit for NYS and its economy, and not overly generous to SolarCity. That’s why I want to know the cost per permanent job including tax breaks.

Unlike the Tesla Gigafactory, SolarCity will not own the land, factory, and according to the videos the equipment. What’s to stop SolarCity from pulling up stakes after ten years when the subsidies run out and relocating to another state dangling a fresh bunch subsidies?


Not having to pay all of those people unemployment is one saving. Another is all the things the employees buy w/their paychecks, the state will collect sales tax. Also the surrounding areas will also prosper, and their growth will also pay taxes.

Rob Stark

Every new and medium sized business that moves to NY is exempt from State and local taxes for ten years.

Although the map shows a nature preserve inside the industrial park the newscasters call it a brownfield site where Republic Steel used to operate.

Video of the construction site does not look like a pristine National Park but an empty lot close to downtown Buffalo.


Like I said, the site is partially a nature preserve. A narrow angle shot of where a couple of politicians are shoveling some dirt doesn’t show what else is on this vast site.

Not every new and medium sized business that moves to NY is exempt, only “qualified” businesses.

“The industries below are not ELIGIBLE to participate in START-UP NY:

Retail and wholesale businesses
Law and accounting firms
Medical or dental practices
Real estate management companies/brokers
Retail banking
Utilities and energy production

Data centers and back offices within any of the above industries could be accepted.”


… They added solar panels… Yup it smells a lot like at the gas station here…


Blah blah blah. Corporations do this ALL THE TIME. Auto plants, aircraft manufacturing, chemical plants, appliance makers . . . . but as soon as SolarCity and/or Tesla get in on that game, it suddenly becomes a big deal? Why?


Small-minded people are afraid.



Because I’m a NYS taxpayer and I’d like the deal to also be a net benefit to NYS, rather than just a positive PR move that will burnish Governor Cuomo’s green credentials for his inevitable 2016 presidential campaign.

I don’t trust governor Cuomo. He colluded with NJ “Bridgegate” governor Christy to have his appointees to the NY/NJ Port Authority propose a big toll hike, then with great fanfare Govs. Cuomo and Christy announced that the proposed toll hike was exorbitant and that they pressured the Port Authority to compromise and implement a smaller toll hike. This took place right before the NY and NJ elections for governor and both Cuomo and Christy won reelection. After the election it was revealed that it was all contrived political theater. To quote a former PA official: “It was all bull s**t.”

That’s why I want to know what the cost per permanent job is including the 10 year tax breaks. I want to know if the deal will actually benefit NY state.


“Can you tell me which Big Oil execs receive tax breaks wiping out their personal state income taxes?”

From your own link:
“Employees hired for and whose jobs are certified as net new jobs in a tax-free area will pay no state or local income taxes for the first five years. For the second five years, employees will pay no taxes on income up to $200,000 for individuals, $250,000 for a head of household and $300,000 for taxpayers filing a joint return. There is an annual cap per business on the number of employees that qualify for this exemption and an annual cap statewide of 10,000 net new jobs. For example, there will be a maximum of 10,000 tax-free jobs after year one, 20,000 tax-free jobs after year two, etc.”

So this only applies to NEW jobs, so the existing execs would not get this treatment. You are lying to people. Shame on you, Sven.


“So this only applies to NEW jobs, so the existing execs would not get this treatment.”

Relocated existing execs do get the no income tax treatment.

Spec9 you are mistaken and must have misread the details of the Start-UP NY program. All jobs relocated to a NYS tax-free area from another state (or non tax-free NYS area) are counted as “new jobs in a tax-free area.”

The program applies to businesses which “RELOCATE to or expand within New York State” and as you quoted above, to “net new jobs in a tax-free area.” An existing NYS company that expands in tax-free areas must add net new jobs. Since SolarCity has no offices, factories, or employees in the Buffalo area, all the executive positions and factory jobs in Buffalo will be “net new jobs in the tax-free area,” even those existing SolarCity executives who RELOCATE to Buffalo.


You right let’s tax them and we still buying from China…….

please a any company that start up technology and business should get this incentives, Chinese will have a hard time competing with prices on solar cells. Remember China is the #1 producer of this solar panels. Big Oil, Banks and Churches get way more benefits and not just for 10 years they get it for good.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

NY is such a sh*tty state to do business in vs. lowtaxland (Texas, Tennessee, et al.), that they have to offer all of these gimmes in order to compete at all in the first place. Yes, it sucks for the taxpayers since they’ll be the ones covering the difference, but those idiots were stupid for voting for those taxes in the first place and deserve the lube-free fisting they get.


I’m not a big fan of SolarCity due to their leases. And the new loan system isn’t much better.

But I sure hope this factory works out for them. There is a good Energy Gang podcast where they interview Rune and he says that they did this because they anticipate a shortage of solar PV panels at solar PV because more popular. I hope they are right.

I wish I had another house to install solar PV on!

As states start to cut back on Net-Metering, I just don’t see how Solar PV is going to get *more* popular. The lease packages SCTY are not exactly consumer friendly – they just spread out the costs over more time for them. Feels good up front to pay less – but they pay longer than if they bought the system for cash and the leases mean they don’t own the system. SCTY sells the leases within bonds that imply that they expect the homeowner will renew after 20 years. During that 20-year time, SCTY must incur the replacement costs of the inverters. I just don’t see this growing like so many assume. And 3000 people at a Solar module factory? How many work at Suniva in Georgia, at SolarWorld in Oregon and others? The GE Solar plant in Delaware a while back only had dozens of employees. Solar is great and I have it. But it is not cheap and not easy to hide the costs. Net-metering and Federal tax credits are the prime movers in Solar PV. Without either or both of those two in the long run, it will be a horrible end.

Who says they are going to cut back on net-metering? It needs to be EXPANDED into the 7 states that don’t have it. Don’t let the utilities slow this train down.

My self-installed system was so cheap that the tax-credits didn’t really make much of a difference.

As long as solar PV prices drop a little more and we keep good incentive programs, solar PV will continue growing.

BTW, I’m fulling willing to give up the incentive programs as long as coal, oil, and natural gas are banned from emitting any pollution or greenhouse gases.


Hopefully the panels will be cheaper than the insanely subsidized Chinese panels…


I believe that is the goal. Cheaper than the Chinese ones, and they are supposed to be the higher quality ones, not the lower level ones from China.

Bill Howland
While I like to see the old Republic Steel property where I used to work as a youngster reutilized, I don’t expect that any hard questions are allowed at any of these press conferences. I also believe part of the deal was a 20 year property tax free. One was 10 and the other was 20, I remember that. So yeah, the alternative buffalo press has been quite critical of this deal, since other NY State communities will wonder why they are giving such a great subsidy. Of course, If Musk didn’t get the sweethart deal, a neighboring state would have snapped it up. But on the bright side, at least Musk will stay around for at least ten years looks like before bolting. If the economy nationwide turns down, will this plant remain open anyway? Its obvious that this plant is only being built in out-of-the-way Buffalo due to these political gifts. But, agreed that the ultimate cost to the many taxpayers will be far more than $150,000 / job. Just as an incidental for out of staters, Suny Polytechnic presence in this area was just a tax lein gift from the former bankrupt Republic Steel, their intellectual concern… Read more »
pete g

Environmentalism doesn’t cost it pays. Medicare and Medicaid spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year treating coal miners with black lung disease. Now consider all the waterways in the US were the fish are unsafe to eat because of mercury run off from coal fired power plants.

Now consider the secondary jobs created when those 5000 workers start spending their paychecks in local businesses. The real return on investment will come in when those workers start taking out loans to buy houses.

Bill Howland
Well, I’m considering it, and my opinion is not as pessimistic as NY State’s republican chairman Ed Cox who thinks this plant will ultimately not make a profit at all, and calls the thing a complete Sham. We’ll see, – there have certainly been enough Shams over the years, but Musk is high profile enough that one would think he wouldn’t escape untarnished if this were really true. So, let’s hope for the best outcome. Another thing: Misplaced environmentalism causes more harm. Evidence: the young victims in London choking on Diesels when the ‘environmentalists’ were saying that Diesel is the clean green choice. Now, without admitting their mistakes, they are encouraging people to do away with their Diesels. Regarding Coal, there have been problems with mining in the past, however mining currently is the safest its even been, if you count Casualties per ton of coal mined, an objective guidepost. A modern coal plant recovers 99% of the sulfer dioxide and 90% of the mercury. Its encouraging that they save the mercury for vaccine preservative, but that’s another subject. The remaining sludge is recovered and usually made into Gypsum board. Of course, then there is that “HORRID” carbon dioxide which… Read more »

3000? 5000? Consider that the Buffalo/Niagara region has lost over 100,000 jobs in the last 20 years. This is no “savior” to the region. And I do not feel that 3000 jobs will be long-term. Many will be for construction. Many, if not 90% of them will be slightly over minimum wage for assembly. Buffalo historically was a union town, as well as niagara falls. Wages were at least twice minimum wage, and higher, for long-term employment. Solar module assembly, packaging and shipping is somewhat automated for the wafer cutting. Will people just be involved with framing, backing material, soldering and QA? And paying more than the minimum wage versus the handful of dollars paid to Chinese workers – the math doesn’t entirely add up unless shipping really is that costly. Shipping a train full of modules from Buffalo to California – or by ship from China to California. How much difference is there? Has anyone studied the actual details of the full “plant to roof” cost structure?


I should say longer than 20 years. Maybe 40-50 years, 100K loss of jobs. The population has shrunk as well – here is the Buffalo population chart for the last 60.

1950 580,132 0.7%
1960 532,759 −8.2%
1970 462,768 −13.1%
1980 357,870 −22.7%
1990 328,123 −8.3%
2000 292,648 −10.8%
2010 261,310 −10.7%
Est. 2013 258,959 −0.9%

Big reason for population decline – that kids grow up, leave HS, go to college and “get out of town”. I’m from Niagara Falls (see my avatar here). At least 70-80% of my classmates have left the area. Some have returned to retire (living costs aren’t anything like that in say DC, SF, LA, NYC). You can bring home a large 401k and retire comfortably.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

At least in California, you have gorgeous weather all year round, hot girls everywhere, and lots of high-tech jobs to go with the high taxes, graft, etc. In WNY, all you get is lake effect snow and hot wings. Oh, and hot beef on weck and loganberry pop!

Friend of mine in the Bflo burbs has a <$100k house with $8k in combined tax on it. That is some bull sh*t. IIRC Niagara Mohawk water in Buffalo leaks more from outdated pipes than it delivers, and 8ish years ago I recall that water rates in Buffalo were higher than those in Arizona. Arizona is naturally arid and subject to long periods of drought, while Buffalo is literally surrounded by one of the largest sources of freshwater on the planet.

shawn marshall

crony capitalism

Mark C

Up until Tesla & Elon Musk, the last time I remember hearing “giga” attached to a word was when Doc Brown described the 1.21 gigawatts power requirements of the Delorean.

Now, it seems to be the flavor to use when you talk about anything Musk.

mike w

Wonder if the solar panels produced at this plant will power the other gigafactory Musk is working on in Nevada?


“1 gigawatt of annual solar capacity at full production.”


1GW would be too small for a yearly production. If each panel is 250W, then that is only 4,000 panels per year. or 13-14 panels per day…

If it is 1GW as in per hour rate, then it would be a lot of panels.

24x365x1GW = 8,760,000 kW or ~35 million panels per year…


Nevermind, can’t do math..

I missed it by 1,000

That is 4 Million panels per year….