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Cuomo’s Big Taxpayer Bet on Silevo Solar Tech Breaking Bad

SolarInstitute for
Energy Research


The crazed SolarCity deal included a Cuomo bet, with everyone else’s money, on Silveo solar technology and it’s breaking bad for SolarCity and taxpayers.

Editor’s Note: This story complements our June 21st piece on the “Get of Jail Free Card” Governor Corruptocrat gave SolarCity (now Tesla). The latter made subsidiary Silveo Inc. and its solar technology the foundation of its fantastical scheme and a recent sweetheart deal ensures SolarCity can freely escape taxpayer paybacks for the failure you’re about to better understand.

New York’s deal with Silevo Inc. is a sham and illustrates the problems that arise when politicians use taxpayer money to attract and reward favored industries. Silevo, which was acquired by SolarCity, is a photovoltaic cell and module technology company that developed the proprietary Triex solar modules. New York’s deal with Silevo was to establish a manufacturing facility to produce 1 gigawatt worth (10,000 solar panels a day) of its Triex module technology with the potential of adding an additional 5 gigawatts of capacity in a later phase. It’s not happening.

SolarCity giga-factory. It is the subject of much intrigue these days. Where are the solar panels on the roof? Always coming later, like the jobs and the payback of New York’s taxpayer subsidies? Interestingly, the factory is projected to use 200,000 cubic feet of natural gas per hour, though.

The agreement granted Silevo the use of a 1,000,000-square-foot factory in Buffalo, occupying 88 acres, with a lease that runs for 10 years and a 10-year renewal right. The rent is $1 or $2 per year. New York promised to spend $750 million on the factory and purchasing manufacturing equipment.

In return, Silevo agreed to employ at least 1,460 people in “high tech jobs” at the factory, with 900 of those hires to be made within two years after completion of the factory; to retain the 1,460 high tech workers for at least five years; and to employ an additional 2,000 people over the first five years to support downstream solar panel sales and installation activities within New York.

In addition to those jobs, Silevo agreed to help attract and retain an additional 1,440 “support jobs” in New York, for a total of 4,900 jobs. It also agreed to spend approximately $5 billion in capital expenses, operating expenses, and other costs over a 10-year period after full production began.

After the initial agreement made in 2014, modifications were made with SolarCity, who acquired Silevo in June 2014, which watered down the agreement. The 1,460 high tech jobs turned into just 1,460 jobs with no “high tech” requirement. Instead of Solar City being required to hire 900 of those employees during the first two years after factory completion, only 500 were required.

Further, the wording regarding the 2,000 hires, “to support downstream solar panels sales and installation activities within New York” was removed. Also, seven delays were made to the factory completion date originally set for December 15, 2015 and finally set for March 31, 2017.

At this point, three years after the original agreement, none of the achievements promised in 2014 has occurred: no solar cells have been produced at the factory, there are no Buffalo jobs and the Silevo solar cell technology, Triex, has been abandoned by SolarCity. SolarCity has pushed back the target date for full production at the Buffalo factory from the first quarter of 2017 to later in the year. The plant is now expected to open this summer, with full production planned by the end of the year.

In fact, Tesla, who acquired SolarCity, has partnered with Panasonic to build solar cells and modules in Buffalo, New York, implying that Solar City’s Silevo endeavor is a failure. According to Tesla’s blog post, the factory will produce Panasonic’s “high-efficiency PV cells and modules” and Panasonic will invest over $256 millionin the Buffalo factory.


New York’s decision to spend $750 million in taxpayer funds for a highly automated factory creating just 500 manufacturing jobs equates to a gigantic $1.5 million subsidy per manufacturing job. New York politicians made the risky investment despite competition from China’s solar panel industry and rapid changes being underway in the domestic market.


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9 thoughts on “Cuomo’s Big Taxpayer Bet on Silevo Solar Tech Breaking Bad

    • And, what exactly were the lies Deborah? The article is carefully sourced. Please be specific as to what facts are incorrect and which sources are wrong.

  1. cuomo is a thief and liar- a destroyer who gambles with our money for vain self aggrandizement. His economic and energy policies are abject failures and wizard of oz distractions.

    Even the Percoco trial if it ever happens is unlikely to snare him because mobsters usually don’t rat. So the NY nightmare grinds on…

  2. https://mobile.twitter.com/billmckibben/status/880212877021372416

    Above is a tweet from bill mckibben one of the high gurus of the antifracking movement. It happens to be a tweet about “clean coal”. It also happens to show me mckibben linking to design blog , which claims to do investigative jorunalsim but it doesn’t. What it does do is smear people and ban commenting on it’s website. What’s missing of course from bill mckibbens tweet is that the clean coal plant that was being abandoned will be running on natural gas instead.

    Not on a blog but on CNN is news of a woman getting arrested. Headline says “fossil fuel” protest as if there were no way to distinguish which fossil fuel was being protested. In reality the woman was arrested over a natrual gas pipeline expansion which was already permitted. What was the agitprop theme on this one? Surely a reporter with even a minimum of knowledge of the antifracking pipeline resistance movement would know agitprot is part of the performance and one of the main objectives of getting arrested is not to stop the project but rather to get in the news.


  3. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/north-dakota/articles/2017-06-29/pipeline-security-company-says-its-victim-of-smear-campaign

    And there is some news on tigerswan which is related to? A pipeline fracas. That one not natural gas but most certainly part of the story of the antifracking pipeline resisitance.

    What happened with the dakota pipeline is what happened with fracking and natural gas and multiple pipleines. A sustained campaign of misinformation , terrible reporting as in a failure on many levels across many publications all over the country and everyone is the problem or villian or bad guy, from the army corps of engineers, to the woman archaologist smeared by Steve horn in desmog blog except of course the actual people who are the problem, the anifracking pipeline resistance movement.

  4. Was there ever an environmental study done on this project ?? How much water air will be contaminated with the chemicals used to produce the panels ??

  5. Pingback: SolarCity Corp (SCTY) Receiving Somewhat Negative Press Coverage, Analysis Shows

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