North Coast Solar Stocks

June 25, 2009

Commerce Secretary: Energy entrepreneurs will lift U.S.

Filed under: ENER — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 1:23 pm

6/25/2009 1:23:50 PM

DETROIT: High energy prices in Europe are causing 80% of the solar panels built in Michigan by United Solar Ovonics to be shipped overseas.

But company officials were buoyed today after a visit from U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who said that the Obama administration’s commitment to renewable energy will help transform the state.

“Hopeful is how I feel about the future of Michigan and America. I know Washington, D.C., can only do so much. So it will take the spirit of American entrepreneurs to dig us out,” Locke said during a town hall meeting at one of United Solar Ovonics plants in Auburn Hills.

“American workers are designing and building components that are changing the way people are using energy. And that’s the way to go until economy is humming again,” Locke said. “But I know we’re going to get there because of companies like United Solar Ovonics.”

He listed a number of renewable energy proposals that will help companies like Uni-Solar, including a 30% tax credit for people and businesses who install solar roofs on their home or business; an $11-billion investment on the electrical grid, a $120-million research and development investment for solar; and $6 billion in investments toward renewable power generation.

In addition, Locke told about 100 people at the plant that the Commerce Department will open a one stop shop this year in Detroit to help businesses connect with customers across the world.

“We will have Commerce department employees who will line up potential customers for you at embassies or consulates across the world,” Locke said. “They have a proven record for success.”

Mark Morelli, CEO of Uni-Solar’s parent company Energy Conversion Devices (ENER), said the company is very excited about the potential in the U.S. market.

“This is a new industry that is growing. We have 2,000 employees and we’re very proud of having a Michigan based workforce,” Morelli said. “We’re really excited that we’ll have a real opportunity to sell our product in the United States.”

Uni-Solar opened its first manufacturing plant in Auburn Hills in 2003 and has since doubled its capacity there and opened two more plants in Greenville. The company also broke ground in November on a fifth plant in Battle Creek.

Sales of solar products for United Solar Ovonics’ parent company — Energy Conversion Devices — for the first nine months of this fiscal year grew to $246 million compared to $154 million for the same period in the 2007-08 fiscal year.

But one employee noted that sales in the United States have been lagging.

“With the president’s proposal on tax credits … The future is very, very bright for alternative energy and solar energy,” Locke said.

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