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Published: Friday, 4/26/2002

First Solar's plant in Perrysburg goes into commercial production

Gov. Bob Taft listens to Jim Flanary, of First Solar LLC, as Dewayne Bridge does a quality check on a solar-panel part at the $16 million production facility in Perrysburg Township. Gov. Bob Taft listens to Jim Flanary, of First Solar LLC, as Dewayne Bridge does a quality check on a solar-panel part at the $16 million production facility in Perrysburg Township.
ALLAN DETRICH Enlarge

After years of frustrating delays, First Solar LLC of Perrysburg Township has sold solar panels to commercial customers and is making 600 panels a week now and hopes to make up to 1,000 a week by late summer.

The company declined to reveal customers, but Vince Poleo, vice president of operations, said they are businesses and other facilities, not test sites the company sold panels to last year. Homeowners are not expected to be customers in the near term.

“A possibility would be if a utility district wants to put in a grouping of these panels to lower the cost of electricity, say in California,” he said.

A 50-watt panel, about two feet by four feet, sells for $130. The company, which has owners from Arizona but has its only manufacturing plant in suburban Toledo, has the capacity to make 7,000 panels a week, he said. The factory has 135 employees,

Last fall, company president Michael Ahearn said First Solar moved too quickly to build its $16-million local state-of-the-art facility without first ironing our problems with the manufacturing process.

Mr. Poleo said yesterday the plant is slowly ramping up for commercial production and will someday be totally automated.

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft yesterday toured the plant in the Cedar Business Park, calling it an example of the type of high-technology companies the state hopes to attract.

“It's potential is enormous,” Mr. Taft said of First Solar. “They said they're hoping to grow by 25 percent per year.”



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