ALBANY, New York – New York invested US $ 750 million to help build a solar panel factory in Buffalo. Now the plant can be useful in the fight against the coronavirus.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company's solar plant hopes to start manufacturing fans as soon as possible at the sprawling Riverbend plant, which has struggled for years to meet the state's high expectations.
"Giga New York will reopen to produce fans as soon as possible" Musk tweeted Wednesday afternoon. "We will do everything in our power to help the citizens of New York."
Musk's comments came after the Irish company Medtronic said it had already started working with Tesla accelerate fan production at a California plant.
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The decision in Buffalo comes after production at the solar plant was temporarily closed because of New York ban last week on all non-essential businesses and services.
The fans are in desperate need in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said daily.
The state needs 30,000 fans to address the lack of fans the number of positive cases exceeded 30,000 on Wednesday.
The state has only about 4,000 fans.
"We are still working with the federal government to try to find more fans, but this is our biggest challenge," said Cuomo on Wednesday.
Last month, Panasonic Corp. said would finish its production of solar panels at the Buffalo plant.
But California-based Tesla promised to continue production at the facility, telling the state that it produced about 1,000 residential solar roofs a week at the so-called Gigafactory in New York.
Before the coronavirus stopped production, Tesla promised to employ 1,460 people at the Buffalo plant by April.
It would have faced a $ 41 million penalty from the state if it failed to meet the job creation goals that were set when New York attracted the company to New York seven years ago, as part of the Buffalo Billion initiative.
Assembly member Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, asked Musk earlier this week to make fans in Buffalo. He said Buffalo News it appears that Tesla will seek to manufacture fan components at the plant to assist Medtronic's production.
"They are cautiously optimistic as they can produce some of the pieces that Medtronic is having a difficult time acquiring," Ryan told the newspaper.
Follow Joseph Spector, New York State editor for USA TODAY Network on Twitter: @GannettAlbany