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The economy:

Solar array manufacturing plant opens in North Las Vegas


Justin M. Bowen

Gov. Brian Sandoval addresses the crowd during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Amonix, a California-based solar power company that recently opened its new North Las Vegas facility, Tuesday, May 17, 2011.

Amonix Solar Power Ribbon Cutting

Gov. Brian Sandoval addresses the crowd during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Amonix, a California-based solar power company that recently opened its new North Las Vegas facility, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. Launch slideshow »

North Las Vegas celebrated the completion of a new solar project Tuesday that is bringing more than 300 jobs to the economically beleaguered city.

In October, California-based solar power company Amonix broke ground on its largest manufacturing plant, located at the Golden Triangle Industrial Park near Craig Road and Interstate 15 in North Las Vegas.

On Tuesday, energy executives and Nevada politicians from the federal, state and local levels heralded the newly completed, 214,000-square-foot facility as an important milestone in the state’s push to become the nation’s green energy leader.

“This is the essence of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said above the din of the manufacturing plant. “Not only do I want Nevada to be the renewable energy capital of the United States, but I want it to be the renewable energy capital of the world.”

Amonix and its partner, Flextronics Industrial, will manufacture concentrated photovoltaic solar power systems at the new plant, producing about four solar panel arrays — each 50 feet by 72 feet — a day.

The Amonix 7700 systems, each weighing more than 11 tons, can generate enough solar energy to power up to 30 houses daily.

The plant will operate around the clock, churning out solar power systems that could generate 150 megawatts of electricity each year, enough to power 50,000 homes, said Amonix CEO Brian Robertson.

“This technology is ideally suited for Nevada,” Robertson said. “We concentrate the light on very high-performance cells in really sunny places like Nevada, where there are 300-some-odd days of direct sunlight each year.”

Amonix ships many of its solar panels to clients in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona, but hopes to establish more energy partnerships in Nevada. In recent years, Amonix has built solar arrays for UNLV, NV Energy and the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

“We hope to work on more projects with people here in Nevada,” Robertson said, adding that Amonix is working to secure energy contracts with MGM International and for the new water reclamation facility and Veterans Affairs hospital under construction in North Las Vegas.

U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., whose district includes the plant, said Amonix will help North Las Vegas and the state recover from the recession. The facility was financed with a $5.9 million investment tax credit from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act awarded to Amonix in 2010 and another $12 million in private capital.

“I’m a great proponent of diversifying our economy in this state,” Berkley said. “I believe that the future of this state can be found in renewable energy. We are creating an entire economy based on green jobs.”

The new Amonix plant will employ 333 southern Nevada residents in management, technical and production jobs paying an average of $18 per hour, plus benefits. That’s good news for North Las Vegas, which has a 17 percent unemployment rate, officials said.

“We’re glad for southern Nevadans and North Las Vegas residents to go back to work,” North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck said. “North Las Vegas has the highest unemployment, unfortunately, in this state, and we’d love to see that number go down.”

“North Las Vegas has such potential for these types of projects and for Amonix to be our first big project to come in, they’ve set the bar really high,” Buck said.

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  1. Here shows the insight into the liberal mindset. The above poster has probably clamored for green power for years. Now that we get it the attitude is: It's too late; it's too little; and we need to investigate who's behind it. Never mind the Nevada realtor who'll make money selling the home, the Nevada healthcare insurance company who'll benefit by insuring the employees, the landscape maintenance company that will keep the homes nice for the new residents, the pizza delivery driver and pizza makers who will be enriched, it's just not enough. That's the only thing you can say about liberals and their agenda, it's just not enough.

  2. Keep it coming!

    Now, transform Section 8, Senior Housing, and any/all public municipal buildings with solar panels as a start towards Nevada's commitment in the Green Energy Era! Any new projects are automatically built with them, and any remodels will get them. Put people, displaced workers, returning war veterans to work doing something that will make our country stronger and the world a better place.

    If the economy ever recovers, the APEX Industrial area north of Las Vegas has all sorts of wonderful "green" innovations planned, such as converting trash to energy plant, use of wind generators, and more! That is a place to keep your "EYE" on and consider supporting investment-wise as much of the footwork is already done. Money that is earmarked GREEN and not bound in cords of red tape has made it difficult getting most of the green energy projects here in Nevada into reality. Most citizen support it----once educated about it.

    Nevada is a solar giant, so let's made use of it. We also have lots of open land where wind farms are viable. Most folks are not aware that those wonderful hot springs dotting the landscape are indicators for geothermal applications. Nevada is home for GREEN ENERGY. Let's be intelligent and #1 on this list for the good and well-being of all!

  3. Another step in the right direction for this valley. 300 more jobs and another industry moving in. Where there is one, more will come.

    Anyone that truly has been here long knows Vegas has it's ups and downs but always comes back. No slow death here. Maybe for the haters but they will always hate no matter how great things get.

    Mr. Sandoval had nothing to do with this plant coming to Nevada and opening. This was planned long before he even ran for office. Mr. Sandoval needs to get back to Carson city and work on the problems he has no plan to fix.

  4. Brian is a year late.

  5. Any job is a good job. No cause to whine about this.

  6. "The facility was financed with a $5.9 million investment tax credit from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act awarded to Amonix in 2010"

    In other words we are paying for this. I won't believe in "green" energy until the free market supports it wholly without any government subsidies. And that won't be until it is profitable.

  7. Thomas,
    All energy producers are subsidized and the free market gave us the 2008 meltdown. Free markets fail more often than they succeed and often stick the consumer with inefficient and bad products (qwerty keyboard anyone, the Gremlin and innumerable other bad autos from Detroit).

  8. Don't the oil companies get something like 20 billion dollars in subsidies.

  9. "Free markets fail more often than they succeed and often stick the consumer with inefficient and bad products"

    Mark, that is a false statement. If a product doesn't sell in the free market because it is inefficient or bad it fails. But it's the consumers choice to purchase those products in the first place. Bad autos, keyboards etc. may have failed but we taxpayers did not subsidize those products. The free market will determine what succeeds and fails. And it's the free market that forces the producers to produce what the markets want.

    I have no problem with "green" energy, I just don't agree with taxpayer subsidies for them.....or any other industry receiving special tax breaks or subsidies to be honest with you. I also don't believe in "to big to fail".

  10. Gee Mark--you are really embarrassing yourself this morning with these comments.

  11. Turrialba, ya know what's REALLY EMBARRASSING?

    Oil companies DO enjoy BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of tax dollars in subsidies.
    That's a fact, jack!

  12. Who? paid for that Alaskan pipe line and where is the oil that's being conveyed thru it going.

    Answer: The Tax payers, To the highest bidder (China)

    So how are we getting the benefit.

  13. Hey, Joe...
    Can you imagine if it worked that way with GOLD IN THE SILVER STATE?

  14. @Delahunty: We do not subsidize things in free markets? Are you kidding? Automobiles and Trucks: How do you classify the huge public expense in roads without which cars and trucks would have no place to run? Or how do you classify the enforcement of the rules of the road without which chaos would block travel. How do you classify the depletion allowances and credits for bringing in new wells without which fuel would be so much less available and priced so much higher to justify extraction? Planes: How do you classify airports, navigation beacons, and the FAA all of which allow planes to take off, fly without collisions, and land? Power: How do you classify the public dams providing hydropower and water? Or the extraction credits and allowances for coal which still provides half of the electric power generated in the U.S? How about electronics: subsidized by the military. Or the internet: subsidized by the military.

    People who make statements about the purity of the free market are not thinking or just not accurate except as statements of something they wish were true -- but isn't.

  15. Leric, roads and infrastructure are paid through gasoline taxes (per gallon) and DMV fees. Airlines pay gate fees at the airports that pay for the items you mentioned.

    Those are called user taxes.

  16. Yep Joe, we'd have the best education system money can buy. We'd still have students that come to school uprepared and umotivated to learn and our public schools are de facto drop in orphanages/daycare centers. So we just have a more expensive boondoggle and I have to pay for three meals a day for the kids, their books and education and I don't even get to take them as a deduction on my federal income tax return. Kinda sounds like a sucky deal to me.

  17. @Delahunty: what is the difference between taxes being spent to subsidize something and tax credits and deductions or allowances from taxes subsidizing the same thing? It is a subsidy either way. And, either way, it distorts market pricing and the marketplace by artificially affecting supply and demand.