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JinkoSolar Plans To Move Quickly In Jacksonville If Incentives Are Approved

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Daily Record
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JinkoSolar could be producing solar panels from this warehouse at 4660 New World Ave. at AllianceFlorida by the end of 2019.

JinkoSolar (U.S.) Industries Inc.’s plans for its Jacksonville solar-panel plant could unfold quickly if City Council signs off Tuesday, as expected, on fast-tracked legislation for incentives.

After that, all that remains for incentives is the state’s approval of its share of assistance, which the BloombergQuint Indian business and financial news site said Thursday could be in two weeks. 

JinkoSolar would be the first Chinese company to set up a factory in the U.S. after President Donald Trump approved tariffs in January of 30 percent on imported solar panel technology, according to our Daily Record news partner.

Related: After Short Meeting, Councilman Supportive Of Council President Brosche’s Transparency Taskforce

It also would set up its U.S. headquarters in Jacksonville, said council Vice President Aaron Bowman.

JinkoSolar has a deal to lease a warehouse at AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center. The plant would employ 200 workers by the end of 2019 and JinkoSolar would make a $50.5 million investment to build-out most of the 407,435-square-foot Westside building.

The city proposes tax incentives of $3.4 million, comprising a $3.2 million Recapture Enhanced Value grant to be paid over 10 years and a $200,000 Qualified Target Industry tax refund for JinkoSolar to be repaid over five years.

The state will pay the remaining $800,000 of the total $1 million QTI refund. Other state incentives were not specified in the city fact sheet.

Based on documents from JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. and subsidiary JinksoSolar (U.S.); a March 16 letter to the Office of United States Trade Representative; a transcript from the Seeking Alpha service of the company’s Thursday earnings conference call; and other sources, work should start toward opening the plant by year-end 2019.

Those documents show that JinkoSolar plans to release details about the plant in the next couple of weeks. Operations could begin in Jacksonville in October.

The plant would make panels targeted to utility customers.

Those details might include the identity of the U.S. customer referred to in January.

JinkoSolar Holding said in the transcript that it signed a large solar module contract for 1.7 gigawatts with a U.S. company and is working on another sales contract for more than 1 gigawatt. The transcript said those orders can be filled by factories in Jacksonville and Southeast Asia. 

JinkoSolar expects advance payments from the U.S. company that can be leveraged to expand capacity.

JinkoSolar and the unidentified U.S. “counterparty” haven’t announced who it is, but industry speculation mentions Florida Power & Light Co.

S&P Global Platts in Houston reported Thursday that JinkoSolar’s first U.S. plant’s Florida location will be near Juno-based NextEra Energy Resources. Florida Power & Light is a rate-regulated electric utility subsidiary of NextEra. 

S&P Global Platts, which tracks the energy and commodities markets, said that in January, NextEra Energy executives told analysts that it had agreed to significant pre-tariff and future panel supply deals with an unidentified manufacturer.

That seems to coincide with JinkoSolar’s announcement Jan. 29 that JinkoSolar (U.S.) Inc. signed a major master solar module supply agreement with an unidentified U.S. counterparty.

Shanghai-based JinkoSolar said then that its board authorized its U.S. subsidiary to finalize planning for the construction of an advanced solar manufacturing facility in the United States. 

When asked Friday if the solar-panel contract was with FPL, JinkoSolar (U.S.) Business Development Director Jeff Juger declined to comment.

He said Monday that JinkoSolar sells to most of the major developers and independent power producers in the U.S.

FPL spokesman Stephen Heiman also was asked about the possibility of a contract between the two. “Respectfully, we decline to comment,” he said Monday.

FPL has been buying solar panels.  It announced March 1 that it opened four solar power plants that meant “another 1 million-plus solar panels” are powering the utility’s customers

The release said FPL “is in the midst of one of the largest solar expansions ever in the U.S. with more than 3.5 million new solar panels added in the last two years alone.” Heiman declined to comment when asked if FPL or NextEra have acquired panels from JinkoSolar.

From 2016 to 2023, FPL expects to install more than 10 million solar panels, it said. The utility says it already is the largest generator of solar energy in the state with 14 major solar power plants and other installations that total 930 megawatts.

A megawatt is 1,000 kilowatts. One megawatt is enough to power about 750 homes at once, according to the California Energy Commission. A gigawatt is equal to 1,000 megawatts.

FPL said that in 2018, it completed eight new solar energy centers that will generate more than $100 million in total system savings for customers, over and above the cost of constructing and operating the plants.

You can read a longer version of this story that goes into additional detail about FPL’s future energy plans on the Daily Record’s website.