Massachusetts solar company changes plans about plant for Genesee County

Mar 3, 2018

A Massachusetts company that makes silicon wafers for solar power cells has decided not to build its first commercial factory in a Genesee County business park after all.

When the concept was first announced a few years ago, there was talk that 1366 Technologies could create between 600 and 1,000 jobs at the ‘STAMP,’ or Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park near Batavia.

But the company’s CEO Frank van Mierlo, has released a statement saying that the company is now looking at building that plant in another country.

He says 1366 had to make a “difficult decision” to withdraw from a loan guarantee agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy. van Mierlo says that decision was driven by the need to conduct a lengthy and expensive renegotiation “without any indication of the outcome.”

He says having a U.S. based factory is still in the company’s strategic plan and he says 1366 is pursuing that opportunity with a more efficient financing structure. van Mierlo says when that’s ready, GCEDC (the Genesee County Economic Development Center) will be “the first place we call.”

A spokesman for Empire State Development, Jason Conwall, says that New York’s commitment to 1366 Technologies was contingent upon their securing additional financing, and since they have withdrawn from the Department of Energy loan agreement, they won’t be able to move forward with the project at this time.

The president and CEO of GCEDC, Steve Hyde, said that while disappointed in the decision by 1366 Technologies, they understand the business decision. He says GCEDC will continue with infrastructure improvements to prepare the site for development. Hyde says the infrastructure work is the result of financial support from the state, and that no taxpayer dollars have ever been allocated to 1366 Technologies.

Hyde says officials remain “extremely excited and committed" to STAMP because there is a long pipeline of leads and great interest in the site by various advanced manufacturing businesses.