News Story

Solar Subsidy Part Two

Will the promises come to fruition this time?

In 2009, then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm hailed Suniva as a company that would help turn the state into the epicenter of manufacturing green energy products.

She said Suniva was opening a photovoltaic plant in Saginaw Township that would create 500 jobs over the next five years.

That plant never came to fruition, joining several other solar projects that didn't work out in Michigan. But the process is starting again with more job predictions and state subsidies if they come through this time.

Suniva, a Georgia-based company, was going to invest $250 million in 2009 and would get a $15 million tax credit for the jobs it was projected to create. The company never received any state money and the new project won’t either unless it creates jobs. Suniva is approved for a $2.5 million performance-based grant for investing up to $12.5 million in the site.

But despite no direct money paid out, elected officials got to pretend the state was making economic progress.

“You should not be celebrating announcements, you should be celebrating actual jobs, even more so if you can get the jobs without state money,” said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “What they said five years ago didn’t happen. They are saying now it can. They got credit for promising these jobs. Now, they are coming back and making the exact same promises.”

Michigan Economic Development Corporation Spokesman Mike Shore said the state is already advertising job postings by Suniva as of July 25 at

“The Suniva story demonstrates how strong technology, smart business leadership and strategic economic development programs can bring new business investment and jobs to Michigan,” Shore said. “The company, established in 2007, as a spin-out of Georgia Tech University, is a leading American manufacturer of high-efficiency crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar cells and high-power solar modules.”

Suniva Spokeswoman Keryn Schneider said in an email that general market conditions drove the company to wait until now to open the Michigan plant.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.