On Aug. 19, 2010, Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn visited Wanxiang America Corp.’s newly built solar panel manufacturing plant in Rockford, Ill., to announce more than $4 million in stimulus grant funds for the 62-megawatt (MW) Rockford Solar Project. This will become the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar development in the Midwest and one of the largest in the nation.

Quinn officiated over the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Wanxiang solar array facility. Wanxiang America is the U.S. subsidiary of one of the largest nonstate-owned companies in China with $8 billion in revenues worldwide.

Quinn also signed a new law that established interim solar targets to help the state reach its solar renewable portfolio standard of 6 percent by 2015. The law marks a landmark achievement for solar energy in Illinois, and proponents hope that it will create more than 5,000 solar panel manufacturing, installation and maintenance jobs, while significantly reducing Illinois’ carbon footprint.

“The state’s investment will help ensure that Illinois remains a leader in renewable-energy development, while continuing to build on the state’s energy independence goals,” Quinn said. “With partnerships with companies like Wanxiang and New Generation Power, we’re creating hundreds of sustainable, green-collar jobs and providing an economic boost to the entire state.”

Production of solar panels is already underway at the newly constructed Wanxiang manufacturing facility located adjacent to the Rockford International Airport. The plant is designed for expansion on the 10-acre Wanxiang campus.

The Rockford Solar Project is the effort of Rockford Solar Partners LLC, a joint venture between Wanxiang America and Chicago-based renewable-energy developer New Generation Power to develop and operate the 62 MW solar-generation facility. The installation is expected to generate enough electricity to power more than 10,000 homes.