Singapore solar company to open $1B factory in Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Earlier this week, President Joe Biden helped announce a new wind turbine manufacturing plant in New Mexico. Now, there are plans for a massive solar panel facility in southeast Albuquerque.

In just a few short years, the city will be home to the nation’s only solar cell manufacturing facility.

Dr. Bill Mulligan, the CEO of Maxeon Solar Technologies, said he hand-picked the 160-acre spot in Mesa del Sol after a nationwide search. Maxeon is expected to bring 1,800 good-paying jobs.

City, state, and federal leaders were eager to help announce the biggest economic investment in New Mexico since Intel expanded to Rio Rancho more than 40 years ago.

“This is as big or bigger,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said at the news conference Friday.

“There is currently no solar cell manufacturing here in the United States,” Mulligan said. “For the most part, it’s all made in Asia today. So it’s a big deal that we’re coming back here, reshoring this technology.”

Mulligan said construction on the nearly 2 million-square-foot facility should begin early next year, with plans to be operational by the end of 2025. Once up and running, the factory is expected to employ 1,800 people of varying skill levels.

Mulligan said hiring New Mexicans is a priority.

“Of course, there are our specialized skills that we will bring in from other areas, and a nationwide pool of engineering talent and such,” Mulligan said. “So it will be a mixture of both, but largely, we’re focused on right here in Albuquerque.”

State leaders estimate the factory will deliver a more than $4 billion economic impact over the next decade, including a new wave of development in Mesa del Sol.

“I think now with his company, and with Netflix, we’re looking at anywhere between 1/6 and 1/5 of the entire city being here,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said.

State leaders say Maxeon will further solidify New Mexico as a renewable energy hub.

“We will deliver exceptional American-made products to American customers, and we will power positive change in New Mexico,” Mulligan said.

Once the factory is fully up and running, it’s expected to produce up to 8 million solar cells a year.