Colorado landed General Electric Co.â¿¿s $300 million thin-film solar-panel factory because of its high score on the companyâ¿¿s five-point checklist used in the site search, company officials said Friday. The checklist called for a location that offered: â¿¢ Access to water at reasonable rates; â¿¢ Access to power at reasonable rates; â¿¢ The ability to rapidly move into a 700,000-square-foot facility; â¿¢ Access to a well-trained work force in an area that offered high levels of education; â¿¢ A drive of one hour or less to one of GEâ¿¿s existing â¿¿centers of excellenceâ¿ â¿¿ in this case, GEâ¿¿s Arvada-based solar technologies division, formerly known as PrimeStar Solar. > DBJ Special Report: Colorado wins GE solar plant The decision to choose Aurora â¿¿ specifically an existing 200,000-square-foot vacant warehouse at the Majestic Commercenter northeast of Interstate 70 and Tower Road, in the Adams County portion of Aurora â¿¿ was made earlier this month â¿¿at the highest levelsâ¿ of the company, said Vic Abate, GEâ¿¿s vice president of renewable energy. Work on the new plant will start in January and the first solar panels are expected to be rolling off the line by the fourth quarter of 2012, company officials said Friday during a roundtable discussion with reporters in Gov. John Hickenlooperâ¿¿s state Capitol office that included the governor, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer. U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, was taking part via conference call; his district includes the GE site. The panels will be used in large, utility-scale solar power farms as well as commercial-sized systems perched on the roofs of big-box stores, Abate said. The company also will target the residential solar power market, but that will be a lesser priority, he said.