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First Solar gets L.A. County go-ahead for massive solar site

Environmental IssuesFuel-efficient VehiclesHybrid VehiclesNatural ResourcesEndangered SpeciesConservation

First Solar Inc. is restarting work on one of the biggest construction projects in Los Angeles County after resolving a code conflict with the public works department.

The nearly $1.4-billion Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One project was put on hold as the county checked that the thin-film solar panels being installed met certification, health and safety requirements.

Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar put some workers on furlough during the period but now says it plans to ramp up its workforce over the next few weeks. The company says construction will create about 400 jobs.

Trading so far in New York has pushed up First Solar's stock as much as 12.9% to a morning high of $16.42 a share. 

The 2,100-acre property is located in the northern part of the county and situated on land previously used for agriculture and without threatened or endangered species, according to First Solar.

The 230-megawatt power plant is expected to eventually generate enough electricity for 75,000 homes once it goes online in 2013. That's the equivalent of taking about 30,000 cars off the road, according to the company.

Construction began in August 2011 and is funded in part by a $646-million Energy Department loan guarantee. The facility was sold recently to the Exelon Corp. utility, though First Solar will operate and maintain the site.

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