By Chris Barrett
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – Toray Plastics (America) Inc. is in line for a $1 million grant from the R.I. Economic Development Corporation to construct a solar farm at its North Kingstown plant.
The EDC’s board of directors is scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the request, which comes as the plastics manufacturer weighs whether to invest millions of dollars in Rhode Island or at its Virginia plant.
The Japanese company initially secured a $250,000 grant and a $500,000 loan from the EDC in October. If approved, the $1 million grant would supercede the October arrangement.
A summary of the request says that Toray has invested about $750 million in its Rhode Island facilities and spends about $5 million a year on capital improvements. But the plastics maker requires a lot of electricity, which is almost twice as expensive in Rhode Island as in Virginia.
The summary says that the $1 million grant will “help the company reduce its overall operating expenses and become more competitive in the marketplace.”
The grant may help Toray decide to undertake two proposed expansions in the Ocean State rather than elsewhere. In one project, Toray would invest $11 million and create 30 jobs. In another, it would invest $200 million and create up to 200 jobs.
The EDC staff has recommended that the board approve the grant and suggested that $750,000 come from the Renewable Energy Fund, which is funded by a surcharge on electric bills. The remaining $250,000 would come from federal stimulus money received by the state.
Separately, Toray received a $490,000 state grant paid for with stimulus funds and a $454,482 federal tax credit to move forward on the $2 million project.