Ausra Switches on Las Vegas Solar Manufacturing Plant

Tesla wasn’t the only cleantech startup with big news about manufacturing on Monday; solar thermal startup Ausra said yesterday that it had turned on the reflector line at its Las Vegas solar equipment manufacturing facility. And like at Tesla’s media event, which was attended by California’s governor and state treasurer, Ausra’s plant opening featured politicians, too: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). (The photo is of Reid and Ausra CEO Bob Fishman pushing the production line button).

So in one day two neighboring states held media events lauding the green jobs created by manufacturing plants from promising cleantech startups. In Las Vegas, Reid said:

“This facility will help position our state as the premiere place to invest in these new technologies. As the factory expands operations and we continue to invest in clean energy, we’ll create thousands of good-paying jobs and keep our outdoors pristine for future generations.”

Ausra’s plant will employee 50 and make solar equipment such as reflectors and absorber tubes, which will then be used at the solar thermal plants that Ausra plans to be built in the desert. The equipment will also be used for customers that will buy solar thermal power for manufacturing operations, like food processing and paper manufacturing.

The startup’s milestone also comes on the heels of the decision by the Bureau of Land Management to put a freeze on all new applications for solar projects built on public lands. In a New York Times article last week a spokesperson from Ausra said the bureau’s decision “doesn’t make any sense,” and that it “could completely stunt the growth of the industry.”

Ausra is backed by high-profile investors Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, among others, and the startup has raised over $70 million.