First Solar–and many of its California-based employees–must be breathing a sigh of relief this week.
The major U.S. solar company ran into a huge issue in April when Los Angeles County put a halt to the company’s $1.4 billion Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One project. The county recently gave the company the go ahead to recommence the project’s construction after a delay of several weeks.
LA County was unsure if the thin-film solar panels that First Solar was using for the project met all certification, health and safety requirements.
First Solar was forced to put several hundred employees on furlough while the issue was sorted out, but now happily recalled the workers, saying it will ramp up to full strength over the next few weeks. The Ranch One project is expected to create about 400 jobs in the area during installation.
The 230-megawatt solar power plant will be installed on a 2,100-acre property in northern LA county. First Solar said in a statement that the area being developed was “previously used for agriculture and without threatened or endangered species.” It is partially funded through a $646-million Energy Department loan guarantee, a practice that has been very politically controversial in the last year.
The plant, which is slated for completion next year, will produce enough power annually to support 75,000 households. Utility giant Exelon recently purchased the Ranch One plant, which will continue to be operated and maintained by First Solar after its completion.