$1 billion project for solar planned

Oklahoma lands cell, panel facility

FILE - Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State address, Feb. 6, 2023, in Oklahoma City. Enel North America says it's planning to invest more than $1 billion and will create about 1,000 new jobs with a new solar cell and panel manufacturing facility in eastern Oklahoma. The company announced on Monday, May 22, 2023, that construction will start in the fall. Oklahoma landed the project after the Legislature and Stitt agreed to offer up to $180 million in tax rebates if the company hits certain benchmarks over the next several years. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State address, Feb. 6, 2023, in Oklahoma City. Enel North America says it's planning to invest more than $1 billion and will create about 1,000 new jobs with a new solar cell and panel manufacturing facility in eastern Oklahoma. The company announced on Monday, May 22, 2023, that construction will start in the fall. Oklahoma landed the project after the Legislature and Stitt agreed to offer up to $180 million in tax rebates if the company hits certain benchmarks over the next several years. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Enel North America announced Monday that it plans to build a solar cell and panel manufacturing facility in eastern Oklahoma that would employ about 1,000 people after the Legislature agreed to a $180 million incentive package to help lure the company.

The company will invest $1 billion in the project, which includes the construction of a 2 million-square-foot solar photovoltaic cell and panel manufacturing facility that will have an annual production capacity of 3 gigawatts, it said in a statement. Construction on the facility is expected to begin in the fall in Inola, Okla., which is about 27 miles east of Tulsa.

"Our selection of Oklahoma is a testament to the strength of the Tulsa Port of Inola site, the state's commitment to workforce development and an attractive investment climate," said Giovanni Bertolino, head of Enel North America's affiliate 3Sun USA.

The decision was announced after the Legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt agreed to provide the company with $180 million in tax rebates if the company reaches certain benchmarks over the next several years. In order to qualify for the entire $180 million, the company would have to spend at least $1.8 billion in qualifying capital expenditures and create 1,400 permanent new jobs.

Oklahoma also agreed to spend more than $38 million on water and wastewater system upgrades to the inland waterways in the region, including at the Port of Inola.

Enel North America's parent company is based in Italy, and European companies have been eyeing the U.S. to invest in the green energy boom, weighing up the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act's $375 billion in benefits for renewable industries.

"Enel's expansion is a huge win for Oklahoma," Stitt said in a statement, "and I'm thrilled by their record investment in our state's economy and workforce, that will have a lasting legacy and continue to impact Oklahomans for generations."

Enel says it has already invested more than $3 billion over the past decade in 13 wind farms across Oklahoma that generate more than 2 gigawatts of annual production, along with a regional office in Oklahoma City to support its workforce.

Construction of the factory is expected to create more than 1,800 construction jobs and an investment of more than $1 billion. It is expected to create about 1,000 new, permanent jobs by 2025. The company says the project also includes the potential for a second phase that would increase production to 6 gigawatts and create an additional 900 jobs.

Oklahoma lawmakers are also considering a separate package of incentives to lure a second Panasonic manufacturing facility to the Sooner State after the state last year lost out in a bidding war with Kansas, which the Japan-based company ultimately selected as the location for a multibillion-dollar mega-factory to produce electric-vehicle batteries for Tesla and other carmakers.

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