First Solar loses $60m on sale of Mesa facility


U.S. thin film manufacturer First Solar is selling off its mothballed module manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona for a loss of US$55 million to $60 million.

The 1.3 million square foot building – planned as a module manufacturing facility – was never put into module production and instead housed the company’s network operations center and around 80 operations and maintenance staff who will be relocated 10 miles away to First Solar’s headquarters in Tempe at the cost of $5 million to $10 million.

The sale of the facility, agreed last Thursday and revealed in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday, is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

The buyer was not revealed in the SEC filing, which predicted the sale will generate more than $100 million for First Solar as well as reducing annual operating expenses by around $10 million.

The filing adds the Mesa building features a 3.3 MW rooftop array – reported by First Solar in December to be a 4.1 MW installation and Arizona’s largest solar rooftop – as well as a small ground-mounted PV test array.