NCDEQ permit paves way for Wolfspeed in Siler City


SILER CITY — Wolfspeed is now on the fast track to construction of its Siler City facility after securing a key air quality permit from the N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality on Thursday.

The plant in Siler City is slated to be the largest economic investment opportunity in state history. It promises 1,800 new jobs and $5 billion over the next two decades for its 445-acre silicon carbide chip manufacturing factory. 

 According to the state Division of Air Quality, nitrogen oxide emissions from the Wolfspeed plant could reach 113 tons per year. DAQ considers the facility to be a "major source" of emissions.

"The site is fully prepped, and now we can move forward with actual construction of the building,” said a Wolfspeed spokesperson in a statement.

The company said the county government has been supportive of the construction. The clearance of environmental hurdles now means the silicon carbide manufacturer is able to receive a building permit from the county.

Previous reports from the state show the plant is expected to emit six different pollutants, totaling 203 tons per year. 

The permit allows Wolfspeed to construct and operate its new semiconductor manufacturing plant in Chatham County. 

The permit requires the facility to use a gas scrubber system to control emissions of volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants and toxic air pollutants. A gas abatement system and particulate matter collection devices will control emissions of additional pollutants, according to a release from NCDEQ.

The environmental justice report filed by the state — which is required before permit approval — found six census tracts within a one-mile radius of the facility have a higher percentage of Black and Latinx residents than the Chatham County and/or state average. In two census tracts, more than half of residents are persons of color.

Copies of the final permit, permit review and environmental justice report are available online.

Last week, Wolfspeed reported it may not be able to receive federal incentive funding through the CHIPs Act under the current wording of the program. 

Wolfspeed says its incoming facility, located at the Chatham Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) site, would be a 10-fold increase in the company’s output. The facility received more $160 million in statewide incentives and an additional $615 million in local incentives from Chatham County and Siler City to seal the deal on its new N.C. facility, which was announced last September.

With the key NCDEQ permit now in hand, the company is on time to complete the first phase of construction by the end of next year.

Wolfspeed, NCDEQ, pollution, environmental justice, Siler City, silicon carbide