BELEN, N.M. — Menlo Park, Calif.-based Signet Solar has planned to develop its first North American solar panel production facility in Belen. Located 30 miles south of Albuquerque in the 6,000-acre master-planned Rancho Cielo, the facility will produce large area thin-film silicon photovoltaic modules for commercial rooftop and ground-mounted solar power systems.

“New Mexico was an obvious starting point for Signet Solar’s expansion into the growing U.S. renewable energy market,” said Rajeeva Lahri, co-founder and CEO of Signet Solar. “New Mexico has demonstrated commitment to renewable energy through public-private partnerships, leveraging its skilled workforce and world class research institutions.”

The first phase of the facility will have an annual production capacity of 65MW and bring 200 high-wage jobs to the state. Operations are scheduled to begin in 2010. Long-term plans for the property will increase production capacity to 300MW per year with a 600,000-square-foot production facility.

Coast Ranch Investments’ Rancho Cielo, an industrial and residential community, plans to use Signet panels on a 700-acre solar farm, which is designed to meet the majority of power requirements for the community.

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