"It's totally the correct decision," said Barry Cinnamon, who also is chief executive of a major solar installation company called Akeena Solar Inc. of Los Gatos, Calif. "It's just kind of the hotbed for it right now."
DayStar, which moved from California to Saratoga County in 2004 after being lured by up to $11 million in state economic incentives, announced plans in May to relocate its corporate headquarters to Santa Clara, Calif., and build a 25-megawatt factory there. Until then, DayStar had been planning to build the new factory in a state-owned business park called the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park in Malta.
Although DayStar plans to keep its research and development and pilot manufacturing in Halfmoon, local political leaders and economic development officials were disappointed by DayStar's West Coast move.
DayStar opened a Santa Clara facility back in 2006 to develop manufacturing equipment. A 25-megawatt factory is capable of annually making enough solar cells to produce 25 megawatts of electricity, which could power as many as 25,000 homes. Cinnamon said the Bay Area is better-suited than upstate New York to find experts and workers familiar with solar manufacturing equipment, which is similar to what is used in the computer chip and semiconductor industries.
Much of the equipment is made n the Far East, which is closer to California than New York. Terry Schuyler, DayStar's vice president of sales and marketing, said that the company couldn't comment for this story because of a Securities and Exchange Commission-mandated quiet period as it seeks to raise $25 million or more in a stock offering. That money will be used to help DayStar build its first 25-megawatt factory, and the company has said in regulatory documents that it would like to build another one four times that size.
Cinnamon says, however, that it would be tough for New York to try to attract that second facility.
"The manufacturing of these things is most likely to happen overseas," he said. "It's almost all to do with labor."