|Solar deal for CPS set to bring 805 jobs|
San Antonio Express-News
Monday, July 23, 2012
Solar deal for CPS set to bring 805 jobs
By Vicki Vaughan
CPS Energy signed a landmark deal Monday with OCI Solar Power that calls for the construction of five solar plants around the state, providing CPS with access to 400 megawatts of power.
The deal will bring to San Antonio 805 jobs paying an average of $47,000 a year — a payroll of about $40 million.
Part of the agreement calls for a $100 million, high-tech manufacturing plant to be built by Nexolon America LLC on the South Side. The plant will build solar components.
OCI said the solar plants will be built in phases and will take four years to complete. The first, a 50-megawatt plant, will be built in San Antonio. A second plant, producing 35 megawatts, will be built in an adjacent county.
The third, producing 105 megawatts, will be built within 120 miles of San Antonio.
The construction's final phases call for a 105-megawatt plant to be built in West Texas and another 105-megawatt plant to be built in North Texas.
Nexolon America has established its North American headquarters here, while OCI has made San Antonio its world headquarters, CPS said.
Of the 805 jobs coming to town, Nexolon America will employ about half at the manufacturing site and its headquarters, while the remainder will be hired by OCI and its local suppliers, CPS said. It was not known how many would be hired by the solar plants.
OCI and Nexolon are expected have an economic effect of $700 million in greater San Antonio, CPS said. The project is not receiving city or county incentives.
The 400-megawatt project is the nation's largest solar project by a municipal utility, CPS said.
“This places San Antonio at the clean energy forefront in the United States,” CPS CEO Doyle Beneby said at a media conference Monday.
Mayor Julián Castro called the deal a “wonderful partnership” that is bringing “good-paying, long-term jobs for our city, that will help diversify our energy supply.”
The 25-year agreement calls for CPS to buy all of OCI's power for the duration of the contract. Beneby declined to say what CPS will pay for the power but noted that the price is “very, very competitive.”
When completed, OCI's solar farms will provide enough electricity to power about 70,000 households, or about 10 percent of CPS customers, the utility said.
As part of the deal, OCI created a consortium of partners to help it deliver solar power to CPS, company President Tony Dorazio said Monday.
OCI's group will build facilities in San Antonio to make components for solar power generation — including modules, trackers and inverters — that will supply the North American market, not just San Antonio.
Hiring for some jobs could begin in 60 days, Dorazio said. The company eventually will hire for a range of positions, from clerical posts to professional positions for mechanical and electrical engineers.
OCI, which moved its headquarters to San Antonio from Atlanta, has more than 40 utility-scale solar projects in development in the United States and Canada. It is majority owned by OCI Enterprises Inc., the North American subsidiary of South Korea-based OCI Co. Ltd.
Nexolon America is the anchor manufacturer in OCI Solar's consortium. It is a subsidiary of South Korea-based Nexolon Co. Ltd., a global maker of components used in solar panels.
Woo-Jeong Lee, Nexolon Co.'s chairman of the board, said his company is looking at two sites on the South Side to build manufacturing facilities but that a specific site hasn't yet been chosen.
“We expect to contribute greatly to San Antonio's new energy economy,” Lee said.
CPS' “new energy economy” is a plan by which the utility has sought business partners to create jobs and help the city emerge as a hub for clean energy.
CPS' Beneby and OCI's Dorazio signed the agreement Monday afternoon at the Korean Pavilion at Denman Estate Park at 7735 Mockingbird Lane on the Northwest Side.