Breaking News
More () »

Will Tesla's solar roof produced in Buffalo eventually shine with homeowners?

State lawmaker says installation time and costs affect buy-in.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Tesla CEO Elon Musk has wrapped up his testimony in a civil trial against him in Chancery Court in Wilmington Delaware where the firm is incorporated. That civil case is tied to Tesla's 2016 purchase of the Solar City firm which included its South Buffalo plant that the state and taxpayers funded for more than $800 million.    

Whatever the judge decides in that case, the Buffalo plant and solar roof and panel production is still a question mark.

Tesla does not speak with the media. But they do answer to a local state senator who sits on the Senate Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee. So with the firm's much touted solar roof project, Senator Sean Ryan of Buffalo has some questions about their product focus and implementation. 

"There's an overestimation on Tesla's part of how easy it was to put these roofs on," Ryan said. "It was almost like no one in the company had ever put a roof on a house before. They thought they could just estimate these things based on square footage and make it a like a puzzle piece to put on not realizing how difficult it would be. They could have talked to any roofer in Buffalo who would have been able to tell them how these things work. But it's been taking up to two weeks to put a roof on."

Tesla in Buffalo made a solar power roof to operate the Canalside Carousel. We learned that it's actually a 25 kilowatt production capacity roof and with our partly cloudy skies it generated about 21 kilowatts on Tuesday to run the carousel. 

Some area roofing contractors we spoke with aren't aware of any other Western New York installation so far. Could that again be a result of the cost factor? 

Senator Ryan told 2 On Your Side, "You could do a complete tear off roof in Buffalo and get your shingles on in two to three days and then the thought that it's gonna two weeks to install one of these roofs was really adding to the cost. Hopefully they can get that worked out because we know the Buffalo facility can make the roofs - to hit their goal of a thousand per week. Now they just have to start getting orders." 

Recently Tesla got some splashy press coverage for what is said to be its first totally solar roof installation on a home in sunny Jacksonville, Florida. 

And Tesla's website stresses its strength, durability, the solar power generation stored in wall-side batteries, and of course for charging Tesla vehicles. 

Ari Levy who is a Senior Technology Editor for CNBC says that is really all part of Musk's total vision for Tesla. And he feels it may be starting to pay off. 

"We're finally seeing some of the fruits of the decisions that were made about solar and Tesla's decisions then," Levy said. "That's because there is a booming business now."

We'll see how it works out for the Tesla plant on South Park and if the company is able to reach its state required goal of 1,500 jobs.