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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Michigan's future lies in Wixom project, execs say [Solar]

Have you driven a solar panel lately?

>http://freep.com/article/20090910/NEWS03/90910053/1318/Michigan-s-future-lies-in-Wixom-project--execs-say
BY CHRIS CHRISTOFF

The planned $725-million conversion of the former Ford Motor Co. Wixom plant to a solar and battery power manufacturing center will not only employ some 4,000 workers, but also is an extension of Ford’s commitment to green energy, executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. said today.

“This is very much in line with a core principle we hold at Ford,” such as development of an electric-powered Focus car, Ford said at a ceremonial kickoff amid the ghostly assembly line at the plant, which was closed in 2007 after 50 years of assembling Lincoln products.

“I can’t imagine a better way to use this facility for our children and our grandchildren,” he said. “We’re going to put this plant and the skilled workers of Michigan back to work.”

Ford was joined by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, several key lawmakers who shepherded tax breaks for the project, and the CEOs of the companies that will renovate the 320-acre plant site.

It will produce state-of-the-art solar panels by Clairvoyant Energy of California, and large storage batteries by Xtreme Power. Both companies will receive major tax breaks from the state, and expect millions of dollars in grants from the federal government.

Clairvoyant CEO David Hardee said the new plant should launch Michigan as the Silicon Valley of renewable energy, creating technologies in future years. He said production of the companies' “thin film” solar energy panels should begin in fall 2011.

“This is the dawn of a new industrial age,” said Hardee, whose company will employ about 270 people at the new plant.

Another solar panel maker, Oerlikon Solar, is a partner with Clairvoyant at the Wixom site.

Ford said the plant is prime real estate that had many offers from developers. He called the joint project by Clairvoyant and Xtreme Power a visionary plan to recycle the plant into the largest renewable energy manufacturing park in the U.S.

Granholm, who has made renewable energy a linchpin of her economic redevelopment policy, said the conversion of the Wixom plant is “symbolic of the Michigan that we are to become.”


From: Michigan's future lies in Wixom project, execs say | Detroit Free Press | Freep.com

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