A New Building For A New Era

By KBJR News 1

September 9, 2010 Updated Sep 10, 2010 at 7:23 AM CST

Silicon Energy plans on producing solar panels from the new facility.

"The Iron Range folks know all about perseverance. We've had ups and downs, we've had bad times and we've had good times," said Rep. Tom Rukavina at Wednesday's groundbreaking ceremony.

Everyone on the Iron Range can classify the ground breaking as one of the ups and a good time.

Silicon Energy, based out of Washington state, broke ground on what will be a manufacturing facility of the Cascade Series solar panels.

The President says the pros outweighed the cons when deciding to set up shop in Mountain Iron.

"Job creation was needed was needed in the area, solar is a great way to create jobs, manufacturing also throughout the state with contractors. So it just seemed like a real win–win relationship," said Shaver.

Mountain Iron Mayor Gary Skalko says excitement and support surround the new facility.

"It's a new era, you know, thinking 'green', and a renewable energy. It's really one of the first in the state, so I the people are very optimistic and excited just to have it here," said Skalko.

The Silicon Energy plant in Mountain Iron plans to start production in early 2011. And experts say the solar panels that will be coming out of this facility are some of the best.

The owner of Powerfully Green, a solar installation company out of the cities says she just spent time with Silicon Energy officials at the Minnesota State Fair and says it isn't just the locals who are excited about the potential.

"The National Renewable Energy Labs does testing of solar modules from around the world. They were calling Gary Shaver, the president of this company and telling him, 'Oh your product is rocking our tests'," said Rebecca Lundberg.

The facility looks to create 17 to 20 permanent jobs in the area.
However high demand for the product would increase job count.

Democratic candidate for Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton was also on hand today and says besides giving important jobs to the area, this plant offers the entire range a step up on the upcoming green era.

"Solar energy, being the future energy sources for our state and our nation. This means that the range will be in the for–front for alternative energy," said Dayton.

Officials say construction on the Silicon Energy facility will start as soon as possible.