W Solar Group, a privately owned company with technology for manufacturing solar panels, said it will move to Wisconsin and set up its corporate headquarters and a separate research and development center in Dane County. No specific locations were given in the announcement Thursday by Gov. Jim Doyle’s office.

The state Department of Commerce will provide up to $28 million in enterprise zone tax credits for the Chatsworth, Calif., company, which says it plans to invest more than $300 million in facilities in Wisconsin and create more than 600 jobs by 2015.

“W Solar Group was attracted to Wisconsin early in our search for a project location,” said Chris Hamrin, president and chief executive officer. “We are impressed with the high-quality work force, extensive supply chain and the commitment to producing world-class products.”

Established in 2009, W Solar has fewer than 20 employees, and all are involved in research and development, company spokesman Evan Zeppos said.

Plans call for opening the headquarters and research and development operations in the first half of 2011 and starting manufacturing in 2012.

Hamrin said the company is still considering sites for the headquarters, research and development center and manufacturing plant. A search online produced a location for the company in Wausau. Zeppos said Wausau is “one of several possibilities for manufacturing.” He said the bulk of the company’s jobs will be in production.

Zeppos said it is “very realistic” to project that W Solar can create more than 600 jobs within four years.

“The target (customers) for us are utilities and large industrial installations,” he said. “We’re aiming to be a very significant international business. We have a product that can meet grid parity on a worldwide market basis.”

Grid parity means it costs as much to get power to the electrical transmission grid through solar power as through coal or gas-fueled power.

W Solar also has made a commitment to buy materials and services from Wisconsin suppliers, the news release said.

Source: host

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