California to mount aggressive bid for Tesla battery plant
California lawmakers and the governor’s office said Thursday that they’re making a major effort to lure a Tesla Motors electric-car battery factory to the Golden State.
A bipartisan pair of state senators -- Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin) -- are sponsoring “urgency” legislation, expressing “intent to provide financial and regulatory incentives to expedite groundbreaking and construction of the plant in California.”
The bill, SB 1309, so far contains no details of what those incentives could be, but experts said they are likely to include tax credits, workforce training grants and streamlined permitting and environmental reviews.
“Everything is on the table...” Gaines said in a statement. “We need to show Tesla that we’ll cut through the knot of red tape that frustrates companies in this state and prove that California is open for business.”
Tesla, which builds its luxury all-electric cars in Fremont east of San Francisco, plans to break ground on one battery plant as early as this month, Chief Executive Elon Musk said in early May. Start of construction on a possible second plant could begin a month or two later, he said.
Steinberg said that he, Gaines and Gov. Jerry Brown want to send a strong message to Musk and Tesla that California wants their business.
“We are making our intentions crystal clear,” he said. “We have a strong commitment to do everything in our power to create good-paying jobs and to attract and retain clean industry.”
The newly amended bill, a kind of legislative placeholder, is in sync with the “administration’s efforts to encourage business to expand in California and demonstrates that the state is serious about finding creative solutions to spur job growth,” Mike Rossi, the governor’s senior advisor for jobs and business development, said in a statement.
Tesla did not immediately comment on Sacramento’s latest signal that it’s going to aggressively seek a battery plant.
Musk said earlier this year that he was considering building his so-called gigafactory in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico or Texas. However, in May he tentatively added California to the list but termed the state a “long shot.”
Musk said Tesla had been in talks with the governor’s staff and expressed concerns that permitting delays could prevent the factory from being built quickly.