An electric truck built by electric vehicle maker Rivian

An electric truck built by electric vehicle maker Rivian is shown. The California-based company announced it's building a $5 billion plant in East Georgia.

Credit: Stephen Fowler / GPB News

ATLANTA – The same judge who refused last year to validate bonds financing a $5 billion Rivian electric vehicle manufacturing plant east of Atlanta now has signed off on the bonds.

Superior Court Judge Brenda Trammell has signed an order validating the bonds following the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision last month not to hear an appeal of the bond validation case brought by a group of local residents, the state Department of Economic Development (DED) announced Wednesday.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit were attempting to appeal a ruling by the Georgia Court of Appeals overturning the lower-court decision Trammell had issued last September. 

Trammell had invalidated the bonds, declaring that the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton, and Walton Counties failed to demonstrate the project would be an economic benefit. Her ruling cited financial troubles Rivian was experiencing as evidence the company might not be able to deliver the project.

On Wednesday, the DED issued a statement characterizing the judge’s new order validating the bonds a victory for Georgia and the residents of the four counties.

“We are grateful for Judge Trammell’s quick entry of an order validating the bonds for this great project,” the statement read. “We also thank the Georgia Court of Appeals for its prompt review and decision concluding what we have known from the outset thanks to the research and vetting process: the Rivian project is sound, reasonable, and feasible and will provide enormous benefit to the community for decades to come.”

The agency’s statement went on to describe the project as on track, with grading 90% complete. Vertical construction is expected to begin in the coming months, and production is due to begin in 2026.

The Rivian plant will generate 7,500 jobs, making it the second largest economic development project in Georgia history, behind only the $5.5 billion Hyundai EV plant under construction west of Savannah.

Under the validated bond agreement, Rivian will not pay property taxes but will make Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs) and pay personal taxes on machinery and equipment. However, the annual PILOTs will be reduced by the amount of personal property taxes paid. 

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Capitol Beat News Service.