CNBC: Tesla picks Nevada for new battery gigafactory

Posted at: 09/03/2014 1:38 PM
Updated at: 09/03/2014 10:16 PM
By: Elizabeth Reed and Blair Miller,

ALBUQUERQUE -- New Mexico's shot at becoming the home of Tesla Motors' new "gigafactory" appears to be over.

A source within the Nevada governor's office told CNBC on Wednesday that Tesla selected Nevada as the site for the new plant.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement was made, said work soon will resume at an industrial park outside Reno. Nevada still must approve a package of incentives Tesla negotiated.

A Tesla spokesperson would not confirm the report but told KOB Eyewitness News 4 that Tesla "looks forward to joining Governor Sandoval and legislative leaders [Thursday] in Carson City at 4 p.m. for a major economic development announcement."

Developer Dan Gilman, with the Renoe-Tahoe Industrial Park, where the plant might be built, was tight-lipped Wednesday, but could hardly hide his happiness about the prospect of Tesla coming to Nevada.

"I'm excited beyond belief!" Gilman said. "They say everybody gets 15 minutes [of fame] in their life. I'm getting more than my share."

Gilman was coy about saying definitively whether or not Tesla had chosen Nevada, but said that he was told to show up at the 4 p.m. news conference and to "bring some of the folks from Storey County and…that we were going to announce something big to the world."

Politicians statewide came out attacking opposing parties for what they said were failures in the process to get Tesla to New Mexico.

City of Albuquerque Chief of Staff Gilbert Montano issued a statement from the mayor's office, saying "We appreciated the opportunity to pitch Albuquerque to Tesla and we wish them well with their future endeavors.  We put together a world class proposal and believe we're a word class city. The fact that New Mexico has been in the running for the Tesla Gigafactory has given us great exposure and has contributed to an increased number of inquiries from other businesses. We will continue advocating for Albuquerque and we look forward to further opportunities to recruit companies and jobs to our city."

"I think it's a shame that New Mexicans were overlooked for 6,500 potential careers because this administration refuses to face the harsh realities that working families face everyday," said New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Gary King. 

"During the last legislative session, House Republicans joined with House Democrats to pass legislation that would have made reduced electricity rates available to wholesale customers like Tesla. That legislation didn't even come up for a vote in the senate," said Republican Caucus Chair Alonzo Baldonado.  

State representative Mo Maestas pushed for a bill in the House that would allow utility companies like PNM to make New Mexico more attractive to potential incoming companies. He said he believes New Mexico lost to Nevada in part because it isn't close enough to California, where Tesla's headquarters are, and there are questions about the amount of water available.

Tesla broke ground for the new factory in Reno at the end of July. At the time, the electric car company said they were still evaluating other locations for the factory in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas.

The person familiar with Tesla's plans told The Associated Press a second site still will be prepared, in case Nevada is unable to deliver the incentives it has promised - or possibly to build a second factory.

The $5 billion gigafactory will employ 6,500 workers and be powered by wind and solar energy.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.