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Tesla To Occupy Former Solyndra Plant In Fremont; Expected To Add Over 1,000 Jobs

FREMONT (KCBS) -- Tesla Motors has taken over the Fremont plant which was once the home of Solyndra, the solar company that went belly-up in 2011 and one of the more high-profile busts in Silicon Valley.

The Silicon Valley Business Journal reported Tesla signed the lease on the 500,000 square-foot Page Technology Center earlier this month. The facility isn't far from the company's existing factory, the old NUMMI plant, which they acquired in 2010.

It isn't clear what the automaker plans on doing with the property, but analysts speculate that it could be turned into a service center. Come September, about 1,500 Tesla employees will be working here.

In 2009, Solyndra received a $530 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy - the first company to qualify under President Obama's 2009 economic stimulus program targeting emerging technologies.

By 2010, the company's proprietary solar cell techonology had fallen victim to cheaper solar panels using silicon, as silicon prices worldwide plunged. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and the episode was a major blow to the Obama Administration's energy policy.

"It's great news to see Tesla continuing to expand in Fremont and also to see Fremont's advanced manufacturing ecosystem equally expand. We're delighted," said Christina Briggs, Fremont Economic Development Manager. "It marks the end of an important chapter for Fremont with all the Solyndra buildings now transitioned."

She says Tesla alone has made up for the 4,500 lost jobs when the NUMMI plant, jointly run by General Motors and Toyota, closed.

"To see today's advanced example of automobile manufacturing take its place in such a short amount of time, it's a dream come true," said Briggs. "I think it's done a lot for not only Fremont, but for the region to broaden this advanced manufacturing ecosystem in Silicon Valley," she said.

Briggs said manufacturing now accounts for almost a quarter of all the jobs in Fremont.

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