ROCKFORD – August 17, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced funding for the first phase of the Rockford Solar Project, the largest solar field development in the Midwest, at the ribbon cutting to open Wanxiang America Corporation’s new solar panel manufacturing plant in Rockford. The state is providing Wanxiang more than $4 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to help create jobs and increase solar energy production in the state.
“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, we’re creating hundreds of sustainable, green-collar jobs and providing an economic boost to the entire state.”
The $4 million ARRA grant, awarded to Rockford Solar Partners from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will support the initial 28 megawatts of a new 62 MW solar photovoltaic electric generation facility. Rockford Solar Partners is a joint venture between Wanxiang and Chicago-based renewable energy developer, New Generation Power.
The new facility, known as The Rockford Project, will save more than 40 million gallons of water annually and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions at a rate of more than 10,000 tons annually, or about 28 tons each day. Solar photovoltaic panels will be sourced locally from the Wanxiang’s Rockford Plant.
In March 2009, Governor Quinn announced a $2 million investment package to support Wanxiang’s plans to establish the new 200-acre solar panel manufacturing facility, which is located at the Rockford International Airport. Together, these investments will create more than 155 new jobs.
Earlier today, Governor Quinn signed two bills into law that promote energy independence by furthering the use of solar power. House Bill 6202, sponsored by Rep. William D. Burns (D-Chicago) and Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), amends the Renewable Energy Portfolio standard by requiring utilities to purchase 0.5 percent of its power from solar sources by June 1, 2012, 1.5 percent by June 1, 2013, 3 percent by June 1, 2014 and 6 percent by June 1, 2015, and each year thereafter. The bill is effective immediately.
House Bill 5429, sponsored by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and Senator Michael Noland (D-Elgin), allows individual homeowners to construct solar energy panels on their homes, provided the individual homeowners follow certain guidelines and restrictions. House Bill 5429 will take effect Jan. 1, 2011.
Wanxiang America Corporation, headquartered in Elgin, 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.