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Public Statements

Letter to the Honorable Steven Chu, Secretary of the Department of Energy

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Sens. Brown, Stabenow, Levin Urge Energy Secretary to Support Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing in Ohio and Michigan

New Public-Private Consortium to be Anchored at Ohio's University of Toledo, Michigan's Dow Corning Corporation; Will Include Regional Manufacturers

U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Carl Levin (D-MI) today sent a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu in support of the Solar Valley Research Enterprise (SVRE), a proposed not-for-profit consortium founded by the University of Toledo and Dow Corning in Midland, Michigan.

The consortium is seeking initial funding through the Department of Energy's Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative, which aims to create public-private partnerships that reduce the cost of solar energy systems and increase the domestic manufacturing base for solar modules and associated components.

In the letter, the senators cite Ohio and Michigan's strong manufacturing base and a skilled workforce "readily available to support industry growth in solar energy." The senators also note the presence of "many community and technical colleges that have developed or are developing certificate programs, courses, and degrees in solar and other renewable energy technologies" and the development of an industry cluster focused on solar energy in northwest Ohio and central Michigan.

"With local institutions like the University of Toledo's Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator and cutting-edge solar and glass manufacturers, northwest Ohio is leading the way in solar energy manufacturing," Senator Brown said. "Together with Dow Corning, the University of Toledo--as part of the Solar Valley Research Enterprise--is an extraordinarily strong contender for the Department of Energy's Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative."

"Thanks to private-public partnerships, Michigan manufacturers like Dow Corning are leading the country in the development of clean energy technologies," Senator Stabenow said. "We need to continue supporting partnerships like the Solar Valley Research Enterprise to promote innovative solar technology manufacturing and create American jobs."

"With each having a highly skilled workforce and strong industrial base, Michigan and Ohio are excellent candidates for the production of solar energy systems," Senator Levin said. "This partnership between Dow Corning and the University of Toledo makes an excellent candidate for the Department of Energy's Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative."

The full letter to Secretary Chu is below.

November 17, 2010

The Honorable Steven Chu
Secretary of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20585

Dear Secretary Chu,

We write today in support of a proposal submitted by the Solar Valley Research Enterprise (SVRE) in response to the Department of Energy (DOE) solicitation for Photovoltaic (PV) Manufacturing Initiative (DE-FOA-0000259). This proposal presents a unique opportunity to increase the domestic manufacturing base for solar modules and associated components, further the technological development of PV production, and reduce the cost of solar energy systems.

The Solar Valley Research Enterprise (SVRE) is proposed as a not-for-profit consortium founded by two key industry and academic leaders within the PV supply chain: Dow Corning Corporation and the University of Toledo. Additional industrial members include Ferro Electronic Materials, Calyxo USA, Pilkington/NSG, Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation, and Dow Chemical Company. The SVRE consortium will be anchored at two Midwest hubs: one in Michigan's Great Lakes Bay region and one in Northwest Ohio near the University of Toledo. These two SVRE facilities, separated by a 2.5 hour car ride, will house state-of-the-art equipment, laboratories, and manufacturing-scale capabilities.

The Department of Energy's Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative would ideally be located close to existing and growing centers of technology and research, and thus able to tap into existing R&D resources and accelerate product development cycles. Ohio and Michigan clearly meet these criteria. Already home to a strong manufacturing base with a wide breadth of scientific and engineering talent, Ohio and Michigan have a skilled workforce that is readily available to support industry growth in solar energy. In addition, Ohio and Michigan have many community and technical colleges that have developed or are developing certificate programs, courses, and degrees in solar and other renewable energy technologies -- producing the next generation of green-collar workers. Additionally, our states are already experiencing this industry cluster effect with the announcement of two new solar module production plants opening in mid Michigan and numerous spin out companies that have formed around the University of Toledo. The states of Ohio and Michigan have recognized the opportunity in PV manufacturing and have both pledged significant funds to match the federal PV Manufacturing Initiative award to SVRE.

The SVRE proposal gathers together the right partners under a proven consortium management plan with significant corporate and state matching fund commitments. The SVRE consortium would create clean energy jobs in manufacturing, increase domestic production of PV components and modules, and accelerate deployment of PV innovations and efficiency gains. In the long term, the SVRE industry-focused consortium would accelerate the march toward PV costs that are competitive or cheaper than non-renewable energy sources, help stabilize Midwest manufacturing through sustainable clean energy job creation, and create a source for technology and product innovation that will serve as an incentive for PV companies to stay in the U.S.

We strongly support the SVRE proposal to the PV Manufacturing Initiative and encourage you to give it your full consideration.

Sincerely,

Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator Carl Levin


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