Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 | 5:51 p.m.
A Spanish engineering company has crossed the ocean with a contract to build more than 10,000 solar panels in Las Vegas for an installation in Tonopah that would provide electricity to thousands of homes in Nevada.
In March, Spanish engineering firm Batz needed to find an American company to partner with to gain the necessary business licenses to set up shop in the United States. The company found Creative Electronics and Software Inc. through the city of Henderson’s Economic Development Division. Months of negotiations brought the companies to a one-year contract that possibly could be extended.
Karl Oleyar, chief operating officer for Creative Electronics and Software, said the partnership was an exciting deal for the company because its Las Vegas location is in the middle of several states that traditionally have explored solar technology.
“You’re in a good, central location,” Oleyar said. “There’s enough infrastructure, but it is so much more business-friendly than Southern California in regards to the taxes and labor laws.”
Creative Electronics and Software, a privately held company, has about 150 employees between its Las Vegas location and its headquarters in South Elgin, Ill. The company is heavily invested in gaming contracts with just under 50 percent of its revenue coming from those projects. Oleyar said the partnership with Batz was a way to diversify Creative Electronics and Software’s revenue flow and eventually pull its percentage of sales of green energy products out of the single digits.
Creative Electronics and Software, 6650 Amelia Earhart Court, has 25 employees in Las Vegas and will need to hire at least 12 more for the project, with many of them likely to remain with the company once the project is complete.
Oleyar said he doesn’t think it will be hard attracting workers with the relatively cheap living expenses and famous entertainment reputation of Southern Nevada.
“If I need talent for a specific project, I can usually get that talent to Las Vegas,” he said.
Ion Zelaia, the head of business development for the Batz project in Las Vegas, said the Tonopah installation — which has a contract to provide its generated power to NV Energy — is one of a series of developments that is part of Batz's global expansion.
“We are not just focused on America,” he said.
The installation will cost Batz around $30 million to complete, but Zelaia said Batz expected to see a 10 percent to 15 percent return on its investment.
Batz, known for a variety of businesses, including composite metal fabrication and engineering, hopes to build on its solar interests with projects beginning next year in South Africa and Morocco, Zelaia said.
The great orange machine arms of the assembly line at the production plant at 7050 Lindell Road officially began work Monday after several weeks of quality-control tests. The arms lift and swing around sheets of glass and metallic material to build a series of panels for the Tonopah solar installation.
Each solar panel is comprised of 35 facets, which are windshield-sized panels consisting of metallic plates stuck to glass with an adhesive. Since the project calls for more 10,000 solar panels, 365,000 facets must be built. That’s the equivalent of about 2,800 facets a day. The project will be completed in about six months.
“We make one in 26 seconds,” said Zelaia. “You go to the toilet and we have 10.”