A spokesperson for the U.S.-based photovoltaics manufacturer has told pv magazine that part of the Mesa facility, originally expected to start manufacturing modules this year, has been leased out for light industrial use "to put the space to productive economic use for both the City of Mesa and us".
They added that 110 people are currently employed by First Solar at the site, where it recently opened its new operations center. The center is designed to monitor and control the current 14 photovoltaic plants worth 460 MW under the companys operations and maintenance program. By the end of 2012, this figure is expected to increase to 23 plants worth 850 MW and, in 2013, 27 plants worth 2.2 GW.
In March 2011, First Solar announced that it would build a new US$300 million module manufacturing facility in Mesa. At the time, it said up to 600 jobs would be created and four new manufacturing lines added, thus taking the companys U.S. production capacity to over 500 MW a year.
The spokesperson said, however, that while First Solar is retaining enough space to operate the four manufacturing lines, there is currently no timeline for when they might begin production. Overall, the Mesa site can accommodate 10 manufacturing lines.