Nevada lawmakers were told on Thursday Tesla Motors invested some $80 million in its Storey County gigafactory plant during the first quarter of this year, bringing the company’s total investment to $143.2 million so far.
Steve Hill, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, presented the first quarter report to the Legislative Commission. He said the company had 320 construction workers at the site during the first quarter, 70 percent of them Nevadans. He said that brings the total number of workers who have worked at least for some period at the construction plant to 744 since work started, 76 percent of them Nevadans.
“The company is optimistic about Nevada being able to supply a good portion of the workforce,” Hill said.
He said that doesn’t include the financial investment or the workers who were at the site before the project’s official start last October — primarily site preparation for the 5.8 million square foot plant at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.
“True investment is somewhat higher than that,” Hill said.
He said the building currently on site has a 900,000 square foot footprint and is about 14 percent of what the finished structure is going to be.
Hill said pretty soon, Tesla and Panasonic plan to start moving machinery into the building “to start making batteries fairly soon.” He said they will begin making batteries in 2016.
In addition, he said, Tesla and Panasonic are looking at possibly expanding the eventual size of the factory. He said that’s because of the strong positive public response to the announcement Tesla wants to build stationary electric energy storage units for residential and commercial buildings.
He said that could mean expanding the building by more than 100 percent more than the 5.8 million square feet now planned.
As part of the Tesla deal, the company agreed to provide GOED and the state with quarterly reports on their progress as well as an audited annual report.
The state, in a special legislative session, approved an estimated $1.1 billion worth of tax incentives including eliminating the sales and use tax on the machine tools and other equipment that will be installed at the factory.
To get those incentives, Tesla must invest at least $3.5 billion in the plant.