UPDATE 1-Suntech to construct solar plant in Arizona

Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:25pm EST

* Says initial production capacity of 30 MW

* Production likely to start in Q3, 2010

* To employ 75 full-time employees at launch

Nov 16 (Reuters) - Chinese solar panel maker Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd STP.N said on Sunday it would construct its first U.S. manufacturing plant in the state of Arizona, in a move to tap increasing demand for solar power in the United States.

The plant, which will be built in the greater Phoenix area, will have an initial production capacity of 30 megawatts (MW) and is likely to start production in the third quarter of 2010, the company said in a statement.

Suntech said the plant would employ over 75 full-time employees at launch and the number may double within the year.

The plant is "configured for growth to respond to the expected expansion of the U.S. solar market in the coming years," Suntech said in a statement.

Solar companies have struggled over the past 12 months as a glut of supplies on the global market has depressed prices, but Suntech's rival Yingli Green Energy Holding Co Ltd's (YGE.N) better-than-expected third-quarter results last week indicated the sector may be rebounding. [ID:nBNG56863] (Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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