Todd Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Solartech Renewables, said he expects the company to open one line of operation over the summer and begin with a preliminary capacity of producing about 55,000 panels per year, which would produce a total of about 12 megawatts of electricity.
One solar panel will sell for between $500 and $600, and a “good size” residential project or small commercial project would typically need about 60 panels to meet its energy needs, Roberts said, but his company is looking at getting in on some large landfill and other municipal projects that would need around 48,000 panels.
Once the company acquires more equipment, its capacity is expected to more than double — able to produce 25 megawatts worth of energy annually. And as Solartech expands over the next five years, government and company officials said, the company is likely to hire another 300 employees.
Roberts said the TechCity location into which Solartech is moving has enough space for output to be tripled if the demand exists.
The company will make not only standard solar panels but also polycrystalline silicon solar panels.
“They will be the only American-owned solar panel producer on the East Coast,” state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill said during a news conference on Friday at TechCity. Cahill, D-Kingston, said he has worked with the state Energy Research and Development Authority, the governor’s office and the Empire State Development Corp. to secure more than $5 million for the solar industry.
Vincent Cozzolino, chief executive officer of The Solar Energy Consortium, said that in the first two-plus years that the Ulster County-based consortium has existed, it has expanded across New York state to include every part of the solar energy supply chain from the raw materials to manufacturing.
And despite the weak economy and employment market, Cozzolino said, the fledgling solar energy industry has added 200 manufacturing jobs to Ulster County.
“The economy of the 21st century will be premised on finding clean, renewable, affordable sources of energy,” Cahill said.
U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, who has secured more than $31 million in federal funding for The Solar Energy Consortium and its member companies, pointed to America’s increasing energy dependence and said it is important to develop new technology so the country does not have to important renewable energy from China in the coming years.
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein, whom officials said also was instrumental in attracting Solartech to the area, declared: “This is what a birth looks like in the economy.”