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GE To Build Largest US Solar Panel Factory In Colorado; To Add 455 Jobs

General Electric Co. (GE) announced Thursday that it will build the largest U.S. solar panel factory in Aurora, Colorado, and expand solar innovation in New York. The actions will create 455 advanced technology jobs over the next three to five years and will deliver lighter, larger, and more efficient thin film solar panels.

Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE projects the new factory to first start up faster than anticipated with the first panels expected to come off the line in 2012, with commercial availability seen in 2013.

On completion, the new factory will highlight a $600 million investment in GE's solar business, with a capacity to produce enough panels per year to power 80,000 homes and will be larger than 11 football fields. The advanced manufacturing facility will create 355 advanced technology jobs in Colorado.

"The Colorado location will allow us to deliver our technology roadmap faster and commercialize industry-leading panel efficiencies sooner. We also look forward to continuing to build our relationships with Colorado's local, state and federal officials who have been extremely helpful as we moved through the site selection process," said Victor Abate, vice president of GE's Renewable Energy business.

Additionally, GE also announced plans to add 100 high-tech jobs between its Renewable Energy Global Headquarters in Schenectady and GE's Global Research Center in Niskayuna while expanding solar inovatio in New York.

"We are building out our global solar business now because of our technology innovation and economics. We remain on track to deliver the most affordable solutions for our customers as we continuously improve this technology," Abate added.

The company noted that the recent $3.2 billion acquisition of about 90 percent of France's oil and gas equipment maker Converteam Group SAS will add energy conversion technologies to GE's solar offerings, further broadening GE's portfolio.

GE is currently focusing on moving ahead with its strategy of expanding its $40 billion energy technology portfolio. The actions continue the series of actions taken in GE's energy business since late September 2010.

GE closed Thursday's regular trading at $16.22, down $0.18 or 1.10 percent on a volume of 46.14 million shares.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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