RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) -- A renewable energy company announced plans Wednesday to build its corporate headquarters in New Mexico, drawing praise from elected officials who are trying to establish the state as a leader in the green economy.
Green2V chief executive officer Bill Sheppard said the company's research, development and manufacturing operations will also be located in Rio Rancho. The company plans to hire 1,500 workers over the next five years and ultimately plans to build more manufacturing sites around the state and employ 3,000 people.
Sheppard, a former executive with computer chip manufacturer Intel Corp., said his new company has been studying the renewable energy market and sees an opportunity in the solar industry -- similar to that when microprocessors hit the scene in the early 1990s, forever changing computers.
By handling the entire supply chain, Sheppard said the company will be able to keep costs down.
"Green2V will manage every aspect of the solar generating installation, from the sand to produce the wafers for solar cells to the financing of important projects," Sheppard said. "We are sand to kilowatts."
Green2V is just the latest solar company to set up shop in New Mexico.
Schott Solar's flagship U.S. manufacturing plant -- the first in the world capable of producing both photovoltaic panels for homes and businesses and thermal receivers for large-scale solar power plants -- is sprawled along Albuquerque's southern edge. Emcore Corp. runs a solar photovoltaic factory in Albuquerque, and Solar Distinction Inc. announced plans earlier this year to build a plant in Albuquerque.
Green2V will be eligible for state incentives, including a high-wage tax credit, a manufacturing investment tax credit and job training funds. The city of Rio Rancho also is considering a $500 million industrial revenue bond inducement resolution that would allow the company to secure financing to build its facility.
"This is a great investment for New Mexico," Gov. Bill Richardson said Wednesday. "New Mexico is going to be North America's solar valley, you watch."
U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat and chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was at Wednesday's announcement, just back from China where he toured a couple of photovoltaic panel manufacturing plants. He said China and other countries are working hard to be at the front of the renewable energy manufacturing market.
"We obviously need to be moving ahead as rapidly as we can," Bingaman said, adding that Green2V will help.
"There's no reason why we in the United States need to be buying our photovoltaic panels from China. There's no reason why we in New Mexico, who can most benefit from solar energy, need to be buying the technology to do that from other parts of the world," Bingaman said.
Sheppard acknowledged foreign competition, but said Green2V believes it has a business model that will make it competitive.
Green2V plans to start construction on its 1 million-square-foot facility this summer. It will be built near Rio Rancho's new city center on land purchased from the state for the development of a commercial and industrial area.