IBERIA PARISH, La. (KLFY) – First Solar, the largest solar energy manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere, announced it has selected Acadiana Regional Airport as the site of its fifth American manufacturing facility.

The company said it will invest up to $1.1 billion in the facility, which will produce high-performance photovoltaic solar modules. Photovoltaic materials and devices convert sunlight into electrical energy. 

The company expects to create more than 700 new direct jobs with a total annual payroll of at least $40 million. It is believed to be the largest single capital investment in the area’s history.

The project is expected to be complete in the first half of 2026.

“First Solar’s selection of Iberia Parish for its newest solar panel production facility leaves no doubt that Louisiana is leading the global energy transition, and creating good-paying jobs as a result,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “This massive investment and the jobs it will create are a huge win for the people of Acadiana and the entire state. It is proof positive that Louisiana’s ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to energy is growing and diversifying our economy. Thank you to everyone who made this day a reality, and a special thank-you to First Solar for trusting Louisiana to be part of their mission to create a more sustainable future.”

The Acadiana facility will be built on an LED Certified Site, meaning it has gone through extensive due diligence and studies to be declared development-ready. It will produce First Solar’s Series 7 modules, which are expected to be manufactured with 100% U.S.-made components, according to First Solar Chief Executive Officer Mark Widmar.

“We are pleased to partner with Louisiana as we lean into our commitment to creating enduring value for America by expanding our solar manufacturing footprint and the domestic value chains that enable it,” said Widmar. “As we evaluated our options, Louisiana’s ability to deliver the talent we need stood out, thanks to its extensive workforce development initiatives and the presence of academic institutions such as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette which now features a world-class solar energy lab. In bringing our unique, fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing model to Louisiana, we expect the plant to mirror the commitment to ‘Responsible Solar’ evident at every First Solar manufacturing facility, which are among the cleanest, safest, and most diverse in the industry. We are proud that our investment in American manufacturing will create stable, good-paying manufacturing jobs and economic and social value in the state.”        

Founded in 1999, First Solar is a leading American-based energy technology company and global provider of eco-efficient solar modules. The company is unique among the world’s 10 largest solar panel manufacturers as the only company with a U.S. headquarters and without a base of operations in China.

Iberia Parish President M. Larry Richard said the announcement by First Solar is “a complete game-changer.”

“We appreciate First Solar’s major investment and look forward to welcoming this international organization to the nation’s energy corridor,” Richard said.

To secure the project in Iberia Parish, the state of Louisiana offered First Solar an incentive package that includes grants for site development and infrastructure improvements totaling $30 million. All grants are contingent upon meeting investment, employment and payroll targets. The company is also expected to participate in the state’s Quality Jobs program.

In addition to the state’s incentives offerings, Iberia Parish and Iberia Economic Development Authority are committing to fund site improvements such as water and wastewater infrastructure development.

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