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October 23, 2018

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1,800-acre purchase expands Tesla’s footprint near Reno

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Scott Sonner / AP

Mustangs graze Thursday, June 24, 2015, on the open range at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center about 15 miles east of Sparks, along Interstate 80 near where Tesla Motors is building a $5 billion gigafactory expected to eventually employ 6,500 workers.

Tesla’s expansion into the Northern Nevada desert nearly tripled in the first half of 2015.

In April and May, Tesla purchased nearly 2,000 acres outside Reno, in addition to the roughly 1,000 acres the electric car company purchased in October for its gigafactory, according to Storey County land records. The majority of the additional land was purchased April 14 and April 15, only weeks before the company announced a home battery on April 30.

Demand for the stationary battery, which stores electricity generated from solar panels during the daytime for use anytime, was so high after the first week that in May Tesla CEO Elon Musk said there’s a chance the company might expand production even further than originally planned at its gigafactory outside of Reno.

Most of the new land, almost 1,863 acres, will not be used for structures. Instead, it could be used for solar arrays that would help power the lithium-ion battery plant, a Tesla spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal. Tesla, she said, does not intend to build additional factory space beyond its original plans.

The development is expected to boost the Nevada economy, especially near the gigafactory. The electric car company, which received a $1.3 billion tax break from the state last year, is expected to invest $5 billion in the state and employ 6,500 people.

In a filing last year Tesla projected that batteries from the gigafactory would be used in its Model S and Model X next year. The company has planned for it to be fully operational by 2020. Later on, batteries manufactured at the gigafactory would be used in the smaller Model 3 and for stationary storage.

Since construction started in May, Storey County has issued Tesla more than 30 building permits, for everything from temporary work trailers to gigafactory fireproofing, according documents from the county’s building department. The most recent permit was issued June 24.

The additional land grab around the factory comes at a time of expensive growth for Tesla.

With plans to spend around $1.5 billion this year on capital expenditures, between the gigafactory and other projects, Tesla entered an agreement with several banks in June for a line of credit up to $750 million, according to a government filing.

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