HOUNSFIELD — Convalt Energy is receiving a $1.25 million bridging loan as it continues to develop a massive solar power manufacturing plant on Route 12F near Watertown International Airport.
The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday approved $850,000 of the loan while the economic development agency is arranging the rest of the money from local Watertown and Sackets Harbor development corporations for the plant in the town of Hounsfield.
“It gives us time for other agencies to review and get on board,” Jefferson County Economic Development CEO David J. Zembiec said ahead of JCIDA’s unanimous vote.
Convalt plans to use $1 million of the loan to transport 100,000 pieces of manufacturing equipment he purchased from a former solar panel company in Oregon, with the remaining amount earmarked for miscellaneous expenses.
The JCIDA loan bears 3% interest and is amortized over seven years.
The 315,000 square foot factory is going through the site plan approval process with the Hounsfield Town Planning Board.
The plant would initially employ around 200 workers and would operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with 60 to 70 people working per shift.
Convalt officials hope to begin construction in May.
In a related development, JCIDA contracted Black River Tree Removal to remove trees for the project at the 88-acre airport site. On Thursday, JCIDA’s board of directors ratified the $42,500 contract for the work.
Solar panels made at the $62.6 million plant would power the company’s own solar projects — both domestic and overseas, according to loan documentation.
By doing so, the company would have control of its own supply chain and avoid having to source more expensive photovoltaic panels from Chinese manufacturers. About 60% of the solar panels it manufactures would be for its own projects, according to loan documents.
The company would produce up to 2 million solar panels per year.
The renewable energy company secured bank financing of $44.18 million, to accompany its own investment of $18.4 million. Construction would cost $35 million.
JCIDA sets up a 20-year tax abatement program for the company.
Convalt intends to begin planning for a second 300,000 square foot factory near the airport once it completes the first.
The company is in the process of acquiring two buildings in Watertown which it plans to use for equipment storage. He paid about $13 million for Oregon’s equipment.
If the Hounsfield project is fully developed, the Convalt plant could create 4,555 jobs in 10 years, according to the company.
According to loan documents, Convalt has a number of ongoing projects in the United States and abroad. The company expects to generate $60 million in consolidated revenue in 2022.