The Tesla GigaFactory is located at RiverBend. It is sited on approximately 88 acres in South Buffalo that was once home to a Republic Steel manufacturing facility.
Since RiverBend was first unveiled in November 2013, SolarCity purchased Silevo, one of the designated anchor RiverBend tenants, and assumed an agreement with the State to increase more than fivefold the manufacturing capability of the clean energy facility. Silevo is a company that develops and manufactures high-efficiency silicon solar cells and modules.
In August of 2016 Tesla Motors Inc. agreed to a $2.6 billion deal to buy SolarCity and then in December Tesla and Panasonic announced they will team up to build solar panels at RiverBend.
Tesla, one of the nation’s largest rooftop solar power providers, will spend $5 billion over the next decade in connection with the creation and operation of the 1.2 million square foot facility in New York.
On September 23, 2014, ground was officially broke on the site. Construction of the structural steel frame of the 1.2 million square foot GigaFactory began in February 2015.
In October 2019, Tesla CEO Elon Musk officially unveiled the eagerly anticipated “Solar Glass Roof” which is made in Buffalo at the Tesla factory at Riverbend. Tesla reports the newest version of its solar panels will have a 25-year warranty and should be able to sustain 130 mph winds and be resistant to hail. The plant also manufactures other products, such as super chargers for Tesla’s electric vehicles and inverters for its power-packs.
“We are definitely going to make New York proud about that factory, it is going to be great,” Musk said.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tesla reported having 1,834 employees at the RiverBend Gigafactory, far exceeding the contractual jobs targets for the entire state. Since the Western New York region’s shelter in place order was partially lifted on May 19, 2020, Tesla has begun to safely expand its operations at Gigafactory New York beyond essential functions and towards a return to full production.
In November of 2013, New York State announced RiverBend. What was initially a $225 million Buffalo Billion investment, the largest single State investment in Western New York, creating an estimated 850 new jobs and leveraging $1.5 billion in private investment, was updated by former Governor Cuomo on September 23, 2014 with the announcement that the state will invest $500 million ($350 million in capital and $150 million in tax credits) through the Buffalo Billion and $250 million in other state resources, helping to create thousands of jobs in Buffalo and New York State. The facility is the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere with more than 1 gigawatt of annual solar capacity when it reaches full production.