Ford closed its Wixom, Michigan plant in 2007, but last week the company announced it will become a renewable energy park in 2011. That is the year when the redevelopment of the plant by two renewable energy manufacturing companies is slated to be finished. Last week, Ford announced that Clairvoyant Energy (Santa Barbara, CA) and Xtreme Power (Austin, TX) are buying the Wixom plant.
Clairvoyant Energy will manufacture solar panels in the plant, while Xtreme Power will make turnkey power systems for wind and solar projects. Clairvoyant Energy will have the capacity to produce over 2.5 million panels a year in the Wixom plant. When the redevelopment is completed, the plant will be one of the largest renewable energy manufacturing parks in the U.S., according to a press release.
Ford closed the Wixom plant in 2007 after 50 years, which manufactured 6.6 million vehicles. When it closed, the plant employed approximately 1,000 workers. As a renewable energy manufacturing plant, it is expected to create over 4,000 jobs, and 10,000 indirect jobs through suppliers.
Clairvoyant and Xtreme will spend $725 to redevelop the plant. The companies will only use half of the plant’s 4.7 million square feet, and will lease the remaining space to other renewable energy manufacturers.
Ford worked with state and local officials, plus the renewable energy companies, for nine months. State and local incentives for renewable energy manufacturers were a key reason why the two companies decided to buy the Wixom plant. According to the president and CEO of Xtreme, Carlos Coe, Michigan beat 14 other states to get the project.
“This move is significant on both ends of the spectrum. It underscores a significant shift toward the accelerated commercialization and adoption of strategic renewable energy technologies, due in large part to the deepened commitment on the part of local, state and federal policymakers to support companies like ours,” said Coe.
The plant is near a rail line and the interstate, which is good for Clairvoyant, as the CEO, David Hardee pointed out. “This plant is ideal for us because the biggest component of solar manufacturing is glass, it’s heavy, it’s bulky. We need rail, we need I-96 access.”
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm said, “This is a symbolic but real statement of Michigan’s transformation. We will diversify this economy.”
“The Wixom Assembly Plant served Ford well for half a century and we wanted to ensure it served Michigan well into the future,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of two visionary energy companies and the leadership of state and local officials, we are transforming our Wixom facility into one of the largest renewable energy parks in the United States.”