Rockford Solar Project Announced in Illinois

solar photovoltaic panels
(cc) Adam Fagen

Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn has announced a $4 million stimulus grant award for the 62 megawatt Rockford Solar Project. The renewable energy initiative is expected to be the largest photovoltaic solar development in the Midwest and one of the largest in the United States. The governor was also attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony of Wanxiang America Corporation’s solar panel manufacturing plant in Rockford, Illinois.

“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% 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% 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, Illinois.

“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 nongovernmental sources. The federal funding was awarded pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Community Renewable Energy Program to create and retain jobs.

House Bill 6202, the Solar Ramp-Up Bill, passed the Illinois General Assembly on May 27, 2010 and established interim solar targets to help Illinois successfully scale up the solar portion of Illinois’ Renewable Portfolio Standard: 0.5% in 2012, 1.5% in 2013, 3% in 2014 to reach 6% in 2015.

Wanxiang America Corporation, headquartered in Elgin, Illinois, is the U.S. subsidiary of Wanxiang Group Companies, one of the largest companies in China with $8 billion in revenues. Wanxiang currently has 4,100 employees in the U.S. and over 45,000 worldwide. Wanxiang Solar is a major player in renewable energy production, including wind and solar, and is the largest manufacturer of medium/large size silicon ingot and wafer cutting in China.

New Generation Power, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, produces renewable energy for sale to retail and commercial users across the United States. Founded by experienced entrepreneurs and renewable energy experts, New Generation Power produces green energy and provides renewable energy credits to our customers across the country. New Generation works in partnership with a number of the world’s leading renewable energy developers and manufacturers.

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