Aug. 4—HOUNSFIELD — A groundbreaking for the massive Convalt Energy solar manufacturing plant will have to wait until October as the company waits to hear about a federal loan for the project.
Company president and CEO Hari Achuthan on Wednesday confirmed that construction won't start until October on the 330,000-square-foot plant on Route 12F, near the Watertown International Airport.
Mr. Achuthan expects to close on the loan on Oct. 1 while the company waits for a commercial appraiser to complete its work. That appraisal has been delayed about four months, he said.
To "catch up" with the construction delay, he plans to bring on more construction crews to get the facility finished by next July, he said.
The company had originally hoped to break ground this summer on the plant in the town of Hounsfield.
The company is waiting to hear about a $25 million loan from X-Caliber Capital, an Irvington, Westchester County, bank that provides financing for rural businesses through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program.
David J. Zembiec, CEO of Jefferson County Economic Development, gave a status report about Convalt to the Watertown Noon Rotary on Wednesday.
He thinks that the loan "is on track and will be able to close on it in October."
Mr. Zembiec and the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency have been working with Convalt on the project.
The manufacturing plant would create 320 jobs within three years with the potential for hundreds more in the future.
In a related matter, Mr. Achuthan said he signed an agreement on Wednesday for a $250 million solar project in Laos, representing one of the largest investments to be implemented in that country by an American firm, he said. He announced the project in May.
Convalt Energy plans to produce 460,000 solar panels at its planned Hounsfield manufacturing plant for Laos.
To get ready for operations of the first plant, Convalt recently moved all of the equipment from a defunct solar manufacturing plant in Oregon.
The equipment is being stored in a pair of buildings on the city's north side. The cost of moving the equipment from Oregon increased to about $2 million, or about double what the company had planned, Mr. Achuthan said.
The facility would produce 900 megawatts of solar panels starting in 2023.
With construction not yet begun of the first facility, the company is already planning a second manufacturing plant at the airport site.
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