State gives $125 million in assistance

June 26, 2011

Energy

Solar panel manufacturers Twin Creeks Technologies and Stion were recruited to the state by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), and the projects received loans of $50 million and $75 million, respectively.

Twin Creeks Technologies package

According to MDA, the state provided $50 million in loan assistance through the Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority (MMEIA) to support the Twin Creeks project. Of this total amount, a loan of $20 million went to the city for construction of the facility Twin Creeks will occupy. The company’s lease payments to the city will go towards paying back this loan. The remaining $30 million in loan assistance went to the company for the purchase of equipment.

In addition, the state also provided a $4-million loan to the city for infrastructure improvements for this project, which will be repaid through a property tax fee-in-lieu.

Regarding tax incentives, Twin Creeks took advantage of Mississippi’s new Clean Energy Manufacturing Incentive program, which allows MDA to certify companies that manufacture systems or components used to generate clean, renewable or alternative energy, including nuclear, solar, wind or hydro generation. The program provides a 10-year exemption from state income and franchise taxes, as well as a sales and use tax exemption to establish a plant or expand an existing production facility. To qualify businesses must have a minimum investment of $50 million and create at least 250 full-time jobs. Twin Creeks was the first company to take advantage of the incentive program.

Twin Creeks Technologies will invest $175 million and create 500 jobs.

Stion package

Stion received $75 million an MDA-administered loan from the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Revolving Fund, which was approved by the Legislature.

The state is also providing clean energy tax incentives and workforce training incentives for the project. Additionally, local officials provided tax and other financial incentives to assist with the project.

The company will invest a total of $500 million and create 1,000 jobs.

Founded in 2006, Stion currently produces its solar panels in a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing and research and development facility in San Jose, Calif., where the company is headquartered.

In a previous interview, MDA’s COO Kathy Gelston said renewable energy companies that MDA has worked with are cash- and equity-rich.

When the state makes loans for equipment purchases, MDA makes sure the state has the first lien position on pieces of equipment, she said. “We normally don’t finance pieces that are not somewhat generic. For example, a generator is a generator; a crane is a crane.”

If a company went bankrupt, much of the equipment for cutting-edge renewable energy technology wouldn’t have much market value. Additionally, the start-ups “don’t want to run the risk of their technology being seized,” Gelston said.

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