Colorado’s solar energy industry took another big hit this week when General Electric Co. told state and local officials that it plans to postpone construction of its solar panel plant in Aurora by 14-18 months as the price of solar cells has plummeted.
Tom Clark, chief executive of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp, said the manufacturing giant is “taking stock of a rapidly changing market.” He said the company explained its decision to Colorado and Aurora officials on Monday.
The GE Primestar plant near Interstate 70 and Tower Road
would have been the largest solar panel factory in the county and employ 335 people. The news follows last week’s announcement from Abound Solar in Loveland that it was ceasing all operations and filing for bankruptcy.
Clark offered that the GE move is not necesarily as dire. “The good news is they believe that they have technology that will be competitive and they are taking the time to develop it,” he told Mark Jaffe of the Denver Post. “The aim is for the next iteration
of their panel to be competitive.”
Jaffe said the GE decision was first reported by Gigaom, a website covering tech issues. The site quoted a GE official as saying that the company wants to take time to improve its technology to make a more competitive product.
Colorado’s selection as the site of the Primestar plant, which at least 10 states were vying for, was viewed as an economic development coup when it was announced in October 2011.
“Colorado made a long-term commitment to GE and we intend to remain good business partners,” Ken Lund, executive director of the state’s Office of Economic Development, said in a statement.
” While the industry may be changing, GE remains an innovative leader and their continued presence in Colorado and a local workforce of more than 1,200 demonstrates their ongoing commitment to our state,” Lund said.