First Solar has officially opened its new factory in Mesa, Arizona at a ceremony on Friday morning. Module production at Mesa is expected to begin by Q3 2012 and will employ approximately 600 full-time staff. First Solar is investing just over US$300 million in the four-line factory, which will produce approximately 250MW of thin-film modules per annum.

The modules manufactured at Mesa will be used to equip First Solar's 2.6GW North American project pipeline, which includes the 290MW Agua Caliente plant in Yuma County, Arizona and the 550MW Topaz and Desert Sunlight systems.

"First Solar coming to Mesa is an important step to establish Arizona as a major player in the solar and clean energy industry,” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said. “This cutting-edge facility brings hundreds of new high-tech jobs to the East Valley and adds to the ongoing development of the Gateway area.

“Projects like this don't happen without the cooperation between the private and public sectors, region and state. I'd like to thank those partners, especially First Solar and DMB, for working together to bring this facility to the Mesa Proving Grounds."

First Solar also used the event at Chandler-Gilbert Community College to unveil Todd Spangler as the site’s new director and general manager. Spangler previously served as general manager of the company’s factory in Perrysburg and will be succeeded in this role by Mike Koralewski.

First Solar CEO Rob Gillette said, "Our Mesa factory has progressed from an idea to advanced construction in just a few short months, which would not have been possible without the support and hard work of countless state and local officials.

“Today we dedicate this site to the many people and agencies that helped make it happen, both public and private. The US is our fastest-growing market, and the additional production capacity from this factory will help us meet growing demand for clean, locally produced solar electricity."