By Denver Business Journal

Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to announce soon that Colorado will be the site of a new General Electric manufacturing plant for thin-film solar-power panels, four sources familiar with the matter said Thursday.

GE first announced in April that it planned to build a plant capable of manufacturing solar panels that would employ 400 workers and could generate up to 400 megawatts of electricity a year. Thatâ¿¿s enough to power 80,000 homes a year.

The plant is expected to be located in Aurora, in the Majestic Commercenter northeast of Interstate 70 and Tower Road, according to a source. State and local incentives are expected to be involved.

> DBJ SPECIAL REPORT: Colorado wins GE solar plant

As many as 10 states have been vying for the plant, with Colorado and New York making serious efforts to land it.

Hickenlooper declined to comment Thursday. But late Thursday, after the Denver Business Journal reported news of the GE plant, the governor's office announced a change in his schedule, saying he would "make an important business announcement" Thursday night at the Aurora Economic Development Council's annual "A-List" dinner.

GE spokeswoman Milissa Rocker would say only that the company is close to making an announcement ⿿in the next few days regarding the location.⿝

GE (NYSE: GE), based in Fairfield, Conn., on April 7 announced a $600 million bet on solar technology that included buying Coloradoâ¿¿s PrimeStar Solar Inc., a thin-film solar panel manufacturer based in Arvada, and a plan to build the nationâ¿¿s largest solar panel manufacturing plant.

GE said then that the manufacturing plant will build panels developed by PrimeStar. The plant is expected to make enough panels to produce 400 megawatts of electricity a year, enough to power the homes of 80,000 homes annually. reported in April that Coloradoâ¿¿s congressional delegation, state officials and university leaders wrote a letter to GE in support of Coloradoâ¿¿s bid for the plant, touting the stateâ¿¿s support for renewable energy.

⿿Colorado is on the leading edge of clean energy economic development and we can⿿t think of a better place to site such a facility,⿝ said the letter by Colorado leaders to Vic Abate, GE⿿s vice president for renewable energy.

The letter was signed by U.S. Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall; Gov. John Hickenlooper; U.S. Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis; U.S. Republican Reps. Scott Tipton, Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman; University of Colorado President Bruce Benson; Colorado State University Chancellor Joe Blake; and Colorado School of Mines President Bill Scoggins.

⿿Our state is a demonstrated leader in clean energy research, innovation and manufacturing,⿝ the letter said. ⿿Golden, Colorado is home to the Department of Energy⿿s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Several of our universities ⿿ including the University of Colorado, Colorado State University and the Colorado School of Mines ⿿are recognized as pioneers on a variety of clean energy issues.⿝

⿿As state and federal collaboration can facilitate innovative economic opportunities such as GE⿿s proposal, we stand ready to provide any additional help to attract this facility to Colorado,⿝ the letter said.

Meanwhile, leaders in New York state have also been pushing hard to win the proposed plant.

The Albany (N.Y.) Times Union newspaper reported Monday that the staff of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ⿿is aggressively pursuing GE and a multimillion-dollar incentive package has been put together.⿝

The Times Union cites ⿿several people familiar with the bidding⿝ in its report.

It said that Colorado ⿿appears to be the front-runner. It has the advantage of a big GE research and development plant doing solar work in Arvada.⿝

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