Tesla/SolarCity starts aggressive hiring process at Buffalo gigafactory

Calling all solar engineers, facilities managers and others with manufacturing experience — Tesla/SolarCity is accelerating its hiring in Buffalo.

The gigafactory, announced in 2014, has faced some setbacks, including an ongoing corruption scandal involving the firm tasked with building the factory. The investigation involved the company’s possible improper relationships with New York state officials and did not involve Tesla/SolarCity.

But 34 jobs at the factory are listed on job board Jobs.net, including 23 engineering positions. Also listed are a facilities manager, executive assistant and an environmental health-and-safety manager, among others.

Tesla/SolarCity quietly began listing more than half of the jobs two days before the merger was finalized at a shareholders meeting on Nov. 17. The pace of job postings hasn’t slowed, however.

A partnership between Tesla/SolarCity and Panasonic announced in October will allow the plant to produce solar cells at the Buffalo plant, concentrating first on Tesla’s solar roof product. Reports suggest that eventually the factory will also produce Panasonic’s Heterojunction Intrinsic Thin Film (HIT) technologies.

Originally, SolarCity (pre-merger) had intended to have the plant running much earlier this year, but those plans were thwarted by SolarCity’s financial position before the Tesla merger as well as the corruption investigation of its building contractor.

Once the hiring is completed, the gigafactory is expected to employ 1,400 people, with room for potential expansion to meet Tesla’s ambitious goals for its role in the solar industry. There are financial penalties in place if the company does not meet those promised goals.

There are already around 40 employees at the factory, but those positions were primarily to prepare the factory for production. Until October, Tesla/SolarCity didn’t even own the plant — it was being run by state overseers. But now the company is in full possession of the plant and is expected to start production in the summer of 2017.