High Hopes, Big Challenges for SolarCity’s Buffalo Factory

solarcity energy manageSolarCity’s facility in Buffalo, NY, which is set to open next year, could create 5,000 jobs, with 3,000 of them in western New York State, according to The New York Times.

The story highlights the possibility that the factory will help reverse the fortunes of the depressed area. It highlights the optimism of the company and local officials. However, it also points to potential problems: An investigation into how construction projects were awarded, the reliance of the industry on tax credits that could fade away and uncertainty about the company’s business model.

That model, which relies on leasing solar panels to customers, has raised concerns among investors. Short sellers – traders who bet that a company loses value – hold 45 percent of its available shares. SolarCity, which is headquartered in San Mateo, CA, said last month that it has designed the world’s most efficient solar panel. The panel, which has an efficiency of 22.04 percent, will be manufactured at the Buffalo facility.

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