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Ford eyes solar to power manufacturing plant

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 10:13am
The Associated Press

Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it is teaming up with two utilities to build a solar power generation system used to provide energy for production of the automaker's electric and hybrid vehicles.

Ford, Detroit Edison and Austin, Texas-based Xtreme Power will build the power station at the automaker's assembly plant in Wayne, Mich.

The 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel system will be integrated with a 750 kilowatt facility that can store two million watt-hours of energy using batteries.

Energy generated by the station will help power production of Ford's Focus and Focus Electric cars and future hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, the company said.

Ford also will install 10 electric vehicle charging stations at the plant to recharge electric switcher trucks that transport parts between adjacent facilities. And it will build a smaller solar energy system to power lighting at the assembly plant.

Combined, the solar power systems are expected to save $160,000 a year in energy costs.

Installation is scheduled to begin later this year.

"With this solar energy system, we will be able to gain vital understanding about the integration of renewable power, smart-grid technologies and energy storage at an industrial facility," said Jim Tetreault, Ford's vice president of manufacturing in North America.

Ford will invest $800,000 in the project, with an additional $3 million investment by Detroit Edison's SolarCurrents program and a $2 million grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Ford shares fell 7 cents to $12.34 in afternoon trading.

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