• Georgia-based solar panel maker Suniva is well along in its federal loan guarantee application so it can build a plant in Saginaw County.So what is the big news that they’re editorializing about?
The Solar Valley is starting to snowball.
Amid the campaigning and squabbling on the Friday before last week’s statewide election were two electric announcements promising a big buzz for our region’s future.
One, a $6-million Michigan Strategic Fund grant, boosts the prospects for a $116.5 million Solar Valley Research Enterprise.The big news is that they have an economic plan for their region to build real clean energy,
The other was a really big thing — the unveiling in Buena Vista Township of a 150-ton, utility-scale wind turbine made by Merrill Technologies Group entirely of Michigan-made components.
And they’re not just talking about it.
These weren’t just breathless, hopeful prospects for the future of a new and growing industry in the Great Lakes Bay Region. They’re proof of the prominence we’ve gained in the emerging field of solar energy, especially, but also in other electrifying endeavors.
At Merrill Technologies, the wind turbine that will eventually stand outside Cadillac to provide enough power for 250 homes, is proof that we can finesse our heavy industry background into alternative energy products for this new century.
Eventually, we see no reason why giant wind turbines made here could become known as the best in the world. And then shipped across the globe and to other parts of the nation from docks along the Saginaw River, or on the railroads that tie Michigan to the continent.
They’ll compete against wind turbines that now are made overseas.
What’s our plan here in Lowndes County and South Georgia?
If we don’t have one now, how about we make one; they did:
A year or two ago, we said imagine that; now, we can say it is possible.The Saginaw News goes on to list as likely incoming businesses a solar shingle plant with 1,200 employees, a battery plant with 800 jobs, a silicon plant with 300 more jobs (above 1,000 already working), some others, and yes, Suniva with its 500 jobs.
A little less tangible than a wind turbine you can touch, but nonetheless just as important, the Michigan Strategic Fund grant awarded Oct. 29 pushed a ball called the Solar Valley Research Enterprise a bit farther down the road to realization. The venture is a collaboration of Dow Corning Corp., Hemlock Semiconductor Group and the Oak Ridge National Lab. The $6-million grant depends upon a $47.5-million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to build one of two Research Enterprise hubs near Midland — the other near Toledo, Ohio.
The intent is to coordinate various solar energy enterprises with research, and come up with technology and products that can compete favorably with other energy sources.
Why build a solar enterprise hub here?
Because this is the new Solar Valley — a.ka. the Saginaw Valley:
What’s our plan? If we don’t have one, what do we imagine? It only took the Saginaw Valley, Michigan a few years to turn imagination into a plan and a plan into jobs.