SunPower Corporation announced today that it would build a new U.S. operations center in Austin. It would bring $10 million in capital investment and create 450 jobs. But the city must first cough up $90,000 per year over ten years in economic incentives.
Governor Perry's office issued a press release this afternoon saying the Texas Enterprise Fund was kicking in $2.5 million. Now the ball is in the city's court. Next Thursday's city council meeting will be the first of two considering the economic incentives, according to Austin Chamber of Commerce's Dave Porter.
"It is a very significant deal for Texas and for the city of Austin to attract SunPower," Porter said. "SunPower will wait to make a final decision once the city goes through the incentive process, and if everything goes smoothly, then I would suspect that they will select Austin."
Porter added that having SunPower set up shop in the ATX could make the city even more attractive to clean energy firms.
"That is the city's goal. That is our goal. SunPower being one of the largest solar companies in the world, this would add significant credibility to our branding of Austin as a clean tech hub," Porter said.
Environmentalists are already reacting with glee while chiding the lege to spend more cash on economic incentive programs. Luke Metzger, the head of Environment Texas, emailed us this statement just a few minutes ago:
“SunPower bringing high-paying solar jobs to Texas is definitely something for which we can give thanks this holiday season. Texas has what it takes to be a national leader in solar power.
We have the most solar radiation in the country, are home to the world’s largest supplier of solar-grade silicon, and areinnovators in the high techindustry. But Texas hasn’t capitalized on our natural advantages and, as a result,other states are luring solar manufacturers away.
Today’s announcement demonstrates that companies want to locate here and, with modest investments, we can land them. Thanks to Governor Perry and Mayor Leffingwell for making this deal happen. SunPower’s proposal makes clear that they could “grow to include additional employees…if a regional, Texas solar market develops to support these jobs.
This facility is a good step in the direction of the sun, but we need the Legislature to help stimulate the market through an incentive program. In 2009, the Texas Senate approved up to $1 billion in incentives over ten years to help Texans install solar on the roofs of their homes, businesses, churches and schools. This session, it’s time to seal the deal and truly embrace our solar future.”
SunPower is based in Silicon Valley and makes solar cells, solar panels and solar systems.