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First Solar to Invest Up to $1.1 Billion to Build Solar Panel Manufacturing Facility in Acadiana, Create Over 700 New Direct Jobs

Oct 10, 2023

IBERIA PARISH, La. – First Solar, the largest solar energy manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere, announced it has selected Acadiana Regional Airport as the site of its fifth American manufacturing facility. The company said it will invest up to $1.1 billion in the facility, which will produce high-performance photovoltaic (PV) solar modules. The project is expected to be complete in the first half of 2026.

The company expects to create more than 700 new direct jobs with a total annual payroll of at least $40 million. It is believed to be the largest single capital investment in the area’s history.

“First Solar’s selection of Iberia Parish for its newest solar panel production facility leaves no doubt that Louisiana is leading the global energy transition, and creating good-paying jobs as a result,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “This massive investment and the jobs it will create are a huge win for the people of Acadiana and the entire state. It is proof positive that Louisiana’s ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to energy is growing and diversifying our economy. Thank you to everyone who made this day a reality, and a special thank-you to First Solar for trusting Louisiana to be part of their mission to create a more sustainable future.”

The Acadiana facility will be built on an LED Certified Site, meaning it has gone through extensive due diligence and studies to be declared development-ready. It will produce First Solar’s Series 7 modules, which are expected to be manufactured with 100% U.S.-made components.

“We are pleased to partner with Louisiana as we lean into our commitment to creating enduring value for America by expanding our solar manufacturing footprint and the domestic value chains that enable it,” said First Solar Chief Executive Officer Mark Widmar. “As we evaluated our options, Louisiana’s ability to deliver the talent we need stood out, thanks to its extensive workforce development initiatives and the presence of academic institutions such as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette which now features a world-class solar energy lab. In bringing our unique, fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing model to Louisiana, we expect the plant to mirror the commitment to ‘Responsible Solar’ evident at every First Solar manufacturing facility, which are among the cleanest, safest, and most diverse in the industry. We are proud that our investment in American manufacturing will create stable, good-paying manufacturing jobs and economic and social value in the state.”

Founded in 1999, First Solar is a leading American-based energy technology company and global provider of eco-efficient solar modules. The company is unique among the world’s 10 largest solar panel manufacturers as the only company with a U.S. headquarters and without a base of operations in China.

“Today’s announcement by First Solar is a complete game-changer,” Iberia Parish President M. Larry Richard said. “We appreciate First Solar’s major investment and look forward to welcoming this international organization to the nation’s energy corridor.”

To secure the project in Iberia Parish, the state of Louisiana offered First Solar a competitive incentives package that includes the comprehensive workforce solutions of LED FastStart. Additional incentives include performance-based grants for site development and infrastructure improvements totaling $30 million. All grants are contingent upon meeting investment, employment and payroll targets. The company is also expected to participate in the state’s Quality Jobs program.

“This project will tap our world-class skilled workforce and will build on a fast growing and diverse economy,” Iberia Industrial Development Foundation President and CEO Mike Tarantino said. “We look forward to working with First Solar and our partners as this next-generation project moves forward and creates new opportunities for the future.”

In addition to the state’s incentives offerings, Iberia Parish and Iberia Economic Development Authority are supporting the project by committing to fund site improvements such as water and wastewater infrastructure development.

“First Solar’s announcement is the largest capital investment to date in our region, and it’s a testament to the region’s economic competitiveness,” said Troy Wayman, president and CEO of One Acadiana. “It also speaks to the strong collaboration among partners that helped usher the project to the finish line. We celebrate with our partners from the Iberia Industrial Development Foundation, the Acadiana legislative delegation, the Acadiana Planning Commission, the Iberia Parish government and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette on this project win.”

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About First Solar, Inc.
First Solar is a leading American solar technology company and global provider of responsibly produced eco-efficient solar modules advancing the fight against climate change. Developed at R&D labs in California and Ohio, the company’s advanced thin film PV modules represent the next generation of solar technologies, providing a competitive, high-performance, lower-carbon alternative to conventional crystalline silicon PV modules. From raw material sourcing and manufacturing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s approach to technology embodies sustainability and a responsibility towards people and the planet. For more information, please visit www.firstsolar.com.

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