By JACK WEATHERLY
A Stion Corp. solar electric array is powering the Avon Central School District in Avon, New York.
Stion’s solar panels were manufactured in Hattiesburg, Miss. and include a 25-year warranty, which will enable the district to generate more than $1 million in electricity credits over the lifetime of the panels.
The array, which is the largest such facility supplying electricity to a school district in the state of New York, will meet all of the school district’s electricity needs and generate an additional $75,000 worth of annual electricity credits, according to a release from San Jose, Calif.-based Stion Corp.
The project was co-developed by New Energy Equity of Annapolis, Md., and RER Energy Group of Reading, Pa. WGL Energy Systems owns and operates the project and provides electricity to the school district. Partial funding for the project was provided by NY-Sun, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to scale up solar energy in the state and develop a self-sustaining solar industry.
“Stion’s [thin-film] modules were selected because they outperform crystalline silicon modules in both warm and cold climates,” said Ian Palmer, chief executive of New Energy Equity. “We embrace innovative American companies, and Stion’s technology and value proposition are very compelling,” Palmer said.
Stion’s manufacturing operation has been struggling since it started operations in 2012. Its memorandum of agreement with the state of Mississippi, city of Hattiesburg and Forrest County was renegotiated in November, giving the manufacturer till the end of 2022 to create 500 jobs, down from the original 1,000 it was to have made by the end of 2017.
The Mississippi Development Authority lent the company $75 million.
The city and county agreed to accept fees in lieu of ad valorem taxes.
“Project support payments” from the city and county are now linked to jobs creation. If Stion has created 350 but fewer than 500 jobs by Feb. 1, 2023, the payments, which are not defined in the amended memorandum, will be reduced by the city and county.
Stion agreed to invest at least $250 million in the project by Dec. 31, 2019. If the goal is not met by the end of 2018, the support payments will be eliminated.
If that investment goal is not met by the end of 2019, the company will have to pay $3.75 million to the state “within thirty (30) days of demand made by the state.”
If fewer than 500 jobs but at least 350 jobs are created starting at the end of 2022, the company will have to pay 1 percent of the balance of the loan annually, with the penalty rising eventually to repayment of the loan balance if fewer than 100 jobs are created.
Last month, the company said there were 110 employed at the Hattiesburg facility.
A megawatt, or a million watts, of panel sales means $600,000 to $700,000 in revenue, Vice President Frank Yang said in an interview last month.
Stion built three pilot projects for Entergy Mississippi.
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