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U.S. Officials Tour Perrysburg Manufacturing Facility

Posted 27 February 2015 7:46 PM by First Solar

As First Solar continues to make news around the world with its technology, growth and industry leadership, U.S. government officials are taking notice and want to see the company’s efforts for themselves. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy visited the First Solar Operations Center in January to learn more about First Solar’s expertise in monitoring and operating utility-scale photovoltaic power plants.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur joined First Solar CEO Jim Hughes and Mike Koralewski, Vice President of Manufacturing Operations and Perrysburg’s site manager for a tour. The Ex-Im Bank provides financing and insurance for projects overseas so that American companies like First Solar can compete with state-subsidized foreign firms on a more even playing field.

Moniz and Hochberg had accepted an invitation by Hughes to visit the plant and get firsthand knowledge on the company’s technological advancements, manufacturing and hiring expansion, and its international business plans.

Energy Secretary Tour
From left, Congresswoman Kaptur, Secretary Ernest Moniz, Hochberg and Hughes. – Photo credit: THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON

The tour showcased the Perrysburg site, the associates and how First Solar has been able to achieve its recent accomplishments over the past few months, including new efficiency records in cells and modules.

“Both Secretary Moniz and Chairman Hochberg represent entities that have played a significant part in the history of the success of our facility and First Solar,” said Koralewski. “We appreciated the opportunity to educate them on our mission here at Perrysburg, which is to serve as the turnkey module R&D center for CdTe technologies globally. We were able to personally demonstrate the value of our integrated R&D and manufacturing methodology for translating science into commercially viable product with improved power output and energy density.”

The tour began with a presentation about the company’s history and current efforts, and then moved through the manufacturing area to learn about production process.

As reported in the Toledo Blade, the visitors were impressed with First Solar’s operations.

"We have worked closely with First Solar on putting these innovative products overseas. Close to 90 to 95 percent has been financed by the Export-Import Bank, so we help them compete against China and against other countries that are also trying to get into the solar field. In the end, we’re helping to put a lot of high-paying jobs in Toledo and throughout the supply chain,” Hochberg said.

“First Solar is a great success story. I think it bears emphasizing that it really is a unique technology,” said Moniz, a nuclear physicist who became Energy Secretary in 2013. “At the Department of Energy, I must say we’re very pleased in our interactions with First Solar. On the one hand, one of our laboratories, the National Renewable [Energy] Laboratory, has been a good partner and continues to be with the company. Secondly, our loan program has supported three big projects which are using their products, over a gigawatt — or 1,000 megawatts — of First Solar product in those plants,” he said.

Read the full Toledo Blade article.

See more photos from the Toledo Blade.

Watch a clip of local television coverage (coverage follows an advertisement).