Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn arrived at Wanxiang America Corporation's newly built solar panel manufacturing plant in Rockford, Ill., on August 19 to announce an over $4 million stimulus grant award for an up to 62-megawatt (MW) Rockford Solar Project, the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar development in the Midwest and one of the largest in the United States, and to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Wanxiang America Corporation's solar panel manufacturing plant.
"The state's investment will help ensure Illinois remains a leader in renewable energy development, while continuing to build on the state's energy independence goals," said Governor Quinn. "With partnerships with companies like Wanxiang and New Generation Power, we're creating hundreds of sustainable, green-collar jobs and providing an economic boost to the entire state."
Earlier in the day, Governor Quinn was in Chicago to sign House Bill 6202 into law, which establishes interim solar targets to help Illinois successfully scale up to reach the state's solar renewable portfolio standard of 6 percent by 2015. The new law marks a landmark achievement for solar energy in Illinois and will create over 5,000 solar panel installation, manufacturing, and maintenance jobs and significantly reduce Illinois' carbon footprint.
The up to 62 MW Rockford Solar Project will generate enough electricity to power over 10,000 homes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions at a rate of 113,000 tons annually, equivalent to the emissions from nearly 20,000 cars. The project will significantly help electricity suppliers achieve the required 0.5 percent solar target by 2012.
"We thank Wanxiang for their investment in its North American solar panel manufacturing facility," said City of Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. "We are equally enthusiastic about New Generation Power's potential Solar Farm at Chicago Rockford International Airport. Investments in green technology such as these will help reinvent Rockford's economy."
The Project is the effort of Rockford Solar Partners LLC, a joint venture between Wanxiang America, the U.S. subsidiary of one of the largest non-state owned companies in China with $8 billion in revenues worldwide, and Chicago-based renewable energy developer, New Generation Power to develop and operate an up to 62 MW photovoltaic solar generation facility in Rockford, Ill.
"Thank you to Wanxiang and New Generation Power for its investment in our region. This is the perfect example of how the city and county came together to create jobs and promote the renewable energy industry. Currently, we have locally made Wanxiang solar panels, purchased by Winnebago County, producing energy at Freedom Field," said Winnebago County board chairman Scott Christiansen.
The Rockford Solar Project not only creates jobs in construction, installation and servicing but also countless additional jobs are generated in the sale and marketing of green power. The Project will also source PV solar panels locally from the Wanxiang solar panel plant.
"We are helping to establish Illinois as one of the largest producers of solar energy in the country and generating much-needed jobs for the Rockford area," said Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, President of New Generation Power.
Production has already begun on Wanxiang's solar panels in the newly constructed flagship manufacturing facility located in the Rockford Global Trade Park adjacent to the Rockford International Airport. Rockford officials have indicated the facility is designed for expansion on the 10-acre Wanxiang campus.
"Solar energy is becoming more and more popular in America, and in the world as well. We believe the market is poised for rapid growth," said Pin Ni, president of Wanxiang America. "We appreciate the State and City governments to support the solar business. Our goal is to expand the plant threefold to meet the demand of Illinois's new solar energy mandate."
In March 2010, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) awarded a grant of $4,025,000 to Rockford Solar Partners, equivalent to 1.26 percent of the project's total cost. 68 percent will be financed by non-governmental sources. The federal funding was awarded pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Community Renewable Energy Program to create and retain jobs.