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State lands tenant for Senatobia plant vacated by solar-panel firm


The vacant 85,000-square-foot plant that had been built and financed by the state of Mississippi has found a tenant three years after Twin Creeks Technologies abandoned plans to produce solar panels in the Senatobia facility, according to Gov. Phil Bryant.

Power and automation technology group ABB said the project is expected to create 200 jobs by its third year of operation, with another 100 expected to be added by the fifth year, according to a news release from Gov. Phil Bryant’s office.

The Mississippi Economic Development Authority provided California-based Twin Creeks $27.7 million, but due to the dumping of lower-cost solar panels by China and a flaw in the manufacturing process, the plan was scrapped before achieving any meaningful production or employment.

The employment projection for Twin Creeks was 500.

“We are pleased to locate this manufacturing operation here in Senatobia,” said ABB Low Voltage Products, Americas Region Division Head Chuck Treadway. “We made our decision after an extensive search. We found that Tate County offered an excellent combination of skilled workers, quality of life and a positive business environment.”

Bryant said: “ABB’s decision to locate in Mississippi demonstrates to the world that we have the competitive advantages needed for success in today’s fast-paced economy. I wish the company many successful years in north Mississippi.

The Mississippi Development Authority provided a $3.5 million grant for infrastructure needs and work-force training.

ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility, industry, and transport and infrastructure customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact.

The ABB Group of companies operates in roughly 100 countries and employs about 140,000. The company’s North American operations, headquartered in Cary, N.C., employ about 20,000.

Twin Creeks was a project that the state financed during the administration of Gov. Haley Barbour. It was one of three alternate-energy projects that Barbour, through the MDA, had sought.

Another was KiOR Inc., which was built near Columbus and was to produce motor fuel from cellulose but never achieved the quality or quantity it had said it would. When it closed in January 2014, it let its 100 employees go.

The state sued the investors and others in Hinds County Circuit Court a year later to recoup the $75 million it had lent investors in the start-up.

The lawsuit alleges fraud, negligence and conspiracy to hide the fact that KiOR’s technology never performed as well as represented.

The state also lent Stion Corp. $75 million to build its Hattiesburg facilty. Stion is building three pilot projects for Entergy Mississippi. One in DeSoto County was completed this fall and two others are nearing completion in Brookhaven and Jackson. Early this year, California-based Stion said it had 200 employees in Hattiesburg.

The Hattiesburg facility was opened four years ago and Stion it would invest $500 million and create 1,000 jobs over six years.

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