For months, Governor Cuomo and his team have been questioned repeatedly about when production will begin at the new, $750,000,000-plus, Tesla solar cell plant in South Buffalo.
With surprisingly little fanfare, that day was Thursday. And the Governor didn't even announce it.
The story broke out of Detroit. Associated Press auto writer Dee-Ann Durbin got the news out of Tesla's Chief Technical Officer, JB Straubel, who said "This is an interim milestone that we're pretty proud of."
A Tesla spokesperson tells 2 On Your Side members of Tesla and its project partner Panasonic were on-site Thursday reviewing progress towards the production of solar cells, including a new product which is roofing tiles that are also solar power generators.
The spokesperson acknowledged that production, "has now started," although it could be some time before the elaborate manufacturing process produces solar cells rolling off the assembly line.
The Buffalo plant was originally begun by Silevo, a solar panel startup, on the site of an old steel mill. Solar panel maker SolarCity Corp. bought Silevo in 2014. Then Tesla acquired SolarCity for around $2 billion late last year. SolarCity was run by cousins of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who sat on SolarCity's board.
Thursday afternoon, Howard Zemsky, president and CEO of Empire State Development, released a statement calling the beginning of production an important milestone and that "is just the beginning of something much larger, which will unfold in the weeks and months ahead."
The factory is the cornerstone of Governor Cuomo's Buffalo Billion initiative, aimed at jump starting the area's economy moving it towards green energy and advanced manufacturing. But as of the time this article was updated, there has been no statement of any kind from the Governor's office.