Napoleon, Ohio named American Solar Champion by SEIA

 

SEIA's Kimbus awards Napoleon Mayor Ron Behm for solar workNapoleon was never known for being big, outsized yes—big no. He was known for be being a leader and even his namesake, Napoleon, Ohio, is apparently taking such a role, this time in solar. The tiny town in Ohio was recently named an American Solar Champion by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

During an awards ceremony SEIA Vice President for External Affairs Tom Kimbis said, "Solar works for Ohio.…These facilities are concentrated within a few miles and represent the breadth, growth and potential of the U.S. solar industry in Ohio. The Solar Energy Industries Association is proud to name Mayor Ron Behm and the City of Napoleon as American Solar Champions."

The town of less 10,000 achieved the recognition for having two major solar installations, Campbell Soup Co.’s 9.8 megawatt installation and American Municipal Power’s 4.2 megawatt installation which supplies the local grid. The town was also recognized for its $30 million Isofoton North America manufacturing facilities, which employs 30 workers and is on the rise, according to SEIA.

The Isofoton plant opened in September 2012 with an initial PV module manufacturing capacity of 50 megawatts annually. The company plans to expand production at the plant to up 300 megawatts. Upon launching, Isofoton said, “The plant will initially employ 120 people and as much as 330 when it reaches full capacity. Isofoton also plans to focus on hiring Ohio’s returning military veterans and provide them with an opportunity to employ their skills and experience.” Those jobs would average $19 an hour, according to the Toledo Blade.

However, for the plant to reach its full capacity and for Napoleon to realize even greater potential as a solar champion, Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission needs to approve American Electric Power of Columbus’ proposed 49.9 megawatt Turning Point Solar project in rural eastern Ohio, which Isofoton is slated to supply the modules for.

The Blade reported that until the commission approves the project it is stalled. Michael Peck, chairman of Isofoton North America Inc., told the paper that until it has the Turning Point contracts ready to go, the plant cannot finance building second and third assembly lines and hiring the 90 workers that would produce the modules. 

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