Solar power company says it will restart Georgia factory

The Georgia Solar Energy Association estimates 7,400 Georgia homeowners have solar.

A U.S. solar manufacturer that went bankrupt in 2017 said it will restart its Georgia factory thanks to new federal incentives.

Suniva said Wednesday that it plans to hire 240 people and will resume making solar cells at its factory in the Atlanta suburb of Norcross. The company expects production to resume by spring of 2024.

The company said it’s using a $110 million investment it received from Orion Infrastructure Capital earlier this year to buy new equipment and expand its production capacity.

Solar cells that Suniva and others make are the key ingredient in solar panels, converting sunlight into electricity. There’s no American-made source of solar cells currently, although others besides Suniva have said they will start producing them in the United States.

The company says the factory will be able to make enough solar cells to generate 1 gigawatt of electricity, with hopes of raising output to 2.5 gigawatts in a planned expansion.

As its financial distress was deepening, Suniva successfully filed a proceeding that led the U.S. government to impose tariffs on cheap imported panels. Suniva continued to support the tariffs after it exited bankruptcy and was bought by Lion Point Capital, a New York hedge fund.

Now, the company says President Joe Biden’s landmark climate and health care law put a firmer floor under the industry by providing additional tax breaks for U.S.-produced solar panels. Buyers of American-made solar cells will get an extra 10% tax credit on top of the regular 30% tax credit for renewable energy investments.

"The Inflation Reduction Act and its domestic content provisions, as issued, provide a strong foundation for continued solar cell technology development and manufacturing in the United States," Suniva CEO Cristiano Amoruso said in a statement.

Democrats were eager to take credit for the announcement.

"This announcement shows the Inflation Reduction Act’s power in writing a new chapter for the American solar industry," said John Podesta, Biden’s senior advisor for clean energy innovation and implementation.