A Decision Made: Tesla Is Coming To Town

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RENO, NV - After months of secret negotiations and frantic around-the-clock work at a construction site east of town, the wait for a decision is finally, apparently over. Tesla is locating its huge battery 'gigafactory' here in northern Nevada.

There's been no official announcement. That will come Thursday, September 4, 2014. Governor Sandoval has called a press conference promising a major economic development announcement. But all day, multiple press reports and sources here in Nevada have been confirming the decision.

It could be a game changer for both the state and Tesla.

The electric auto maker has found success with its high-end Model S, but to grab a significant share of the market, it's banking on the planned Model 3, which would sell for a more affordable prices, somewhere in the $35,000 range.

To produce that car, Tesla needs to produce lithium batteries in quantity. Its so-called "gigafactory" would do just that.

We now know where it will apparently be built, a small valley at the northeastern end of the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.

In less than four weeks, crews working around the clock moved three and a half million cubic yards of earth in a project initially only known as Project Tiger. They were, in fact, preparing the site for a pad for a huge building. Then work suddenly stopped.

It was a $20 million dollar head start, but led to no decision.

The competition had long since come down to five states, then reportedly two, Nevada and Texas, with a late entry coming from California. The competition was fierce, but only here was earth actually been moved.

Sources told us more than a month ago the state thought they had a deal wrapped up, only to see things changed.

Tesla's Elon Musk said publicly "the ball is in the court of the governor's office and the legislature."

Apparently whatever was holding things up has been resolved.
The next step is a special session of the legislature which could come as early as next week.

Tesla is asking a lot. It's been widely reported it has been asking states to chip in 10 percent of the project's $5 billion dollar cost, $500 million. That would come in the form of tax breaks and would be well beyond anything seen in Nevada before.

Partisan politics and North-South sectionalism can always complicate matters whenever the lawmakers meet, but we were told weeks ago by an informed source, the governor has the votes necessary.

One local lawmaker we talked with called it an "exciting day" for northern Nevada, but reserved judgment on the incentive package until details were known.

Pressure from the local business community to OK the deal should be strong and, in any case, it's unlikely the Governor would call a special session if he weren't confident.

That press conference is set for Thursday afternoon at 4. You can watch it live here on KOLO 8 News Now.