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April 23, 2014

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GE scraps nation’s largest solar panel plant

AURORA, Colo. — General Electric Co. is permanently scrapping plans to build the largest solar factory in the U.S. near Denver.

GE blamed the cancellation on a glut of solar panels on the market and falling prices, The Denver Post reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1ctY22F ).

The factory was to have been bigger than 11 football fields and have an annual capacity of 400 megawatts. State officials said it would create 350 jobs.

GE put the project on hold last month.

A research center that developed the thin-film solar-cell technology for the plant will be closed, with 50 people losing their jobs, according to Lindsay Thiel, a GE spokeswoman. The research center, formerly a startup named PrimeStar, was in Arvada, another Denver suburb.

"We have decided that it is not in the best interest of GE, our customers or the Denver community to move forward with the build-out of this facility," Thiel told the newspaper in an email.

At least 10 states were vying for the PrimeStar plant in 2011. GE said it would go to Aurora that fall, and company executives attended the next year's State of the State address by Gov. John Hickenlooper, who personally cited the plant in his speech.

Thiel said the company has decided to permanently end plans for the plant.

"With the continued price declines of and overcapacity for solar panels, solar module manufacturing is very competitive, and only the most competitive technology at the most competitive cost position will succeed," Thiel said.

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