Brighton’s City Council made a major move on Tuesday night toward bringing a gigantic lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant to Colorado, approving a package of economic incentives for Amprius Technologies to stand up a 775,000-square-foot factory on East Bromley Lane.
The facility would dwarf the size of the next-biggest battery plant in the state — Louisville-based Solid Power’s 75,000-square-foot facility in Thornton — by a factor of more than 10. It would open no later than mid-2024, according to a City Council memo.
“That would be a signature plant,” said Mike Kruger, president and CEO of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association. “It would be by far the largest (in Colorado).”
Fremont, California-based Amprius, which has spent the last decade developing a silicon anode that gives batteries extra energy and a quick recharging capacity, wouldn’t comment Tuesday on its Colorado plans. Brighton Mayor Greg Mills also declined to say anything about what would be a big get for this city 20 miles north of Denver.
The Colorado Economic Development Commission in February approved $5.49 million in state job growth incentive tax credits for what was then known only as “Project Maverick.” Brighton’s memo on the incentive package revealed that code name and Amprius are one and the same.
Amprius has been mulling two other states for its plant: Texas and Georgia.
According to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Amprius’ plant in Brighton would create 332 new jobs at an average annual wage of $68,516, which is 104% of the average annual wage in Adams County. Managers, engineers, technicians, operators and business support personnel are among the positions that would be created.
According to Tuesday’s action by the Brighton City Council, Amprius would receive a 50% reimbursement of the use taxes it pays the city on materials related to the construction of the project, for a maximum use tax rebate of $506,250.
The company would also get a full rebate of the municipal property tax it pays Brighton for five years, under the terms of the incentive package. That should save the company about $85,000 a year, a city spokeswoman said.
The Brighton City Council voted 7-0 to approve the incentives.
The company told state officials in February it would produce lithium-ion batteries that “substantially improve the performance of EV, aircraft and drones through higher density and longer-range batteries.” Amprius has largely aimed its technology at the aerospace sector — powering reconnaissance drones, high-altitude “pseudo satellites,” and futuristic, short-distance “urban air mobility” aircraft that could one day carry up to four passengers.
In 2021, the company won a contract with the U.S. Army to design and develop batteries for use in military drones. It also teamed with Airbus on the aircraft manufacturer’s Zephyr program, helping power Airbus’ solar-electric, high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle.
The site Amprius is eyeing in Brighton, at 18875 East Bromley Lane, is already home to Colorado’s largest single-story industrial building. The 1.3 million-square-foot facility, which now sits vacant, once served as a distribution facility for Sears and Kmart. It’s not clear if Amprius would use the rest of the building at some point.
The building sits across the street from the Adams County Justice Center, close to Interstate 76.
While the Amprius factory would be the largest of its kind in Colorado, it wouldn’t be the largest in the country. Tesla’s 5.4 million-square-foot Gigafactory in Nevada, where lithium-ion batteries are manufactured, is much larger.
And in neighboring Kansas, Panasonic Energy Co. Ltd. in November broke ground on a $4 billion electric-vehicle battery plant in De Soto, southwest of Kansas City. The 2.74 million-square-foot factory will supply batteries to Tesla when it’s operational in 2025.
Alissa Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, wouldn’t say whether Amprius had chosen Colorado as the destination for its new plant. But she did say Colorado has “positioned itself as a forward-looking market poised to capture investment in renewables and the climate-friendly technologies of the future.”
“A large part of this is a collaborative energy ecosystem that includes energy leaders, cleantech companies, research labs and institutions, and an energy-focused university system,” she said.
Kruger, with the Colorado Solar and Storage Association, said a factory like the one Amprius may be bringing to the state could trigger the growth of “commensurate services,” including partnerships with universities like the Colorado School of Mines.
“You don’t build one of these things in isolation,” he said.