OKLAHOMA CITY — A solar panel manufacturer’s decision to open a plant in Rogers County that will create about 1,000 new jobs is a “huge win” for the Oklahoma, state officials said.

Enel North America announced in a press release that it plans to make over a $1 billion investment in Oklahoma and start construction on a manufacturing facility at the Tulsa Port of Inola in fall 2023. The company aims to have its first American-made photovoltaic cells and modules available to sell by the end of 2024.

The company, which is headquartered in Massachusetts, plans to employ about 1,000 people by 2025, though officials said a possible second phase could create an additional 900 new jobs.

Once operational, the plant will be among the first in the country to produce solar cells, the company said. Enel already operates 13 wind farms in the state.

“We are proud to help usher in a new era of American-made energy and do so with a state that is already a leader in the energy industry,” said Giovanni Bertolino in a statement.

He heads the company’s North American affiliate 3Sun USA LLC.

Bertolino said the site selection is “a testament to the strength of the Tulsa Port of Inola site, the state’s commitment to workforce development and an attractive investment climate.”

He said the factory will create millions in long-term revenue and move the state to the front of the renewables manufacturing.

Earlier this month Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation that created a $180 million investment rebate program, known as the Perform Act, targeted at the company. State leaders had promised the package would seal the deal.

“Enel’s expansion is a huge win for Oklahoma, and I’m thrilled by their record investment in our state’s economy and workforce, that will have a lasting legacy and continue to impact Oklahomans for generations,” Stitt said in a statement.

U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement that his economic agenda has led to hundreds of billions in private sector clean energy and manufacturing investments in America. He said that “good-paying jobs” are being created in every corner of the country.

“Because of my Inflation Reduction Act, private capital is being invested in Oklahoma and all across the country, as communities step up to help build our clean energy economy,” Biden said. “These new investments should be an investment not just in manufacturing, but also in our middle class. Companies like Enel have the opportunity to hire the most highly skilled, dedicated, and engaged workers in the world — American union members.”

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the expansion will bring long-term quality jobs to the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

“The talented workforce required for this kind of expansion will largely be Cherokee and it will have a tremendous economic impact for local families,” he said.

Janelle Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at jstecklein@cnhinews.com.

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