Solar power developer to call Bay Area home

Another big player in solar technology is relocating from the East Coast to the Bay Area

February 10, 2011 7:03:27 PM PST
Another big player in solar technology is relocating from the East Coast to the Bay Area and they intend to put several dozen people on the payroll.

Sun Edison will call Belmont home. The solar power plant developer, now based in Maryland, plans to transfer 100 employees to its new headquarters. The company has told the city of Belmont the goal is to also add 400 new positions in the next few years.

"It's great for Belmont, great for the Peninsula and California in terms of jobs," Belmont City Manager Greg Scoles said.

Sun Edison develops and maintains solar power plants. They are still negotiating a lease agreement with the owner of the building. The company had no comment on its move to Belmont, as the company is still trying to secure some incentives from the state. But the city of Belmont agreed to wave some fees to make the deal more attractive.

"They did come to Belmont and ask for some relief on our construction fees, development fees and building permit fees," Scoles said.

The fees total more than $85,000. The space will be shared with Volkswagen conducting research for electronic technology. The Silicon Valley is already the high-tech capital of the world and moving toward becoming the epicenter of the green revolution.

Stanford environmental engineering professor Mark Jacobson is not surprised Sun Edison is moving here.

"There are already many companies that are working toward a clean energy future. It really helps to have many of these companies close to each other because they share ideas, even though they don't want to compete with each other, but they are sharing ideas," he said.

While California continues to struggle with a high unemployment rate, the Silicon Valley seems to be doing better. According to the California Employment Development Agency, during 2010 jobs in Silicon Valley grew quicker than the rest of the state.

"Anything that brings in jobs and increases the tax base is good but then on top of the fact it's a green industry, it's great," Belmont resident Tom Lewis said.

Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network analyzes economic growth in the area and they said that from 2000 to 2006, green jobs grew 41 percent in Silicon Valley compared to 17 percent for the rest of California.

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