Clairvoyant, Xtreme to Convert Idle Ford Plant Into Renewable Energy Park

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An idle 320-acre Ford Motor Co. plant, which during its 52 years of operation assembled 6.6 million Lincoln Continentals, Ford Thunderbirds and other vehicles before halting operations two years ago, is getting reincarnated as a renewable energy equipment manufacturing park.

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In a symbolic win for those hoping the U.S. can replace some of its thousands of lost automotive jobs with green ones, three greentech companies on Thursday announced a plan to retrofit a Ford (s F) assembly plant in Michigan (the state with the highest unemployment rate in the country) to manufacture equipment for wind and solar projects, and to set up a renewable energy training center. Along with Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, chief executives of Xtreme Power, Clairvoyant Energy and Oerlikon Solar revealed the plan at a ceremony at the Wixom, Mich., facility.

Part of the plan involves a thin-film solar factory that solar developer Clairvoyant Energy expects to build using Oerlikon Solar equipment. The project is the first one that Switzerland-based Oerlikon has announced in the U.S., said Chris O’Brien, head of North American market development for the company. “It’s an important milestone for Oerlikon…and a vote of confidence in the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing,” he said, adding that the company believes the U.S. will become the world’s largest photovoltaic market by 2012.

Clairvoyant expects to raise financing for the project next year and to begin operations at the solar plant in 2011, he said. The factory will initially house a single 90MW production line, but could ultimately expand to four lines, O’Brien said. According to the press release, Clairvoyant plans to hire 300 employees for the factory by the end of 2011 and depending on demand, add up to 700 more.

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Another project at the park will be a factory for Kyle, Texas-based Xtreme Power, which makes energy storage and power management systems for large wind and solar projects. The company plans to renovate more than 1 million square feet of the site.

Xtreme and Clairvoyant, which have agreed to buy the plant from Ford, plan to use approximately half of the 4.7 million square feet of building space for their factories and are looking for other green companies to lease the rest. In addition, the plan calls for a renewable energy research and training center for tenants and colleges.

The Michigan legislature has approved about $100 million in tax credits for the project, which is expected to cost about $725 million in total. The project is applying for additional funding from a variety of other government sources, including federal loan guarantees and manufacturing tax credits, as well as state and local tax incentives for employment and brownfield renovation projects.

All together, the renewable energy park is expected to create more than 4,000 jobs, according to a press release from Ford. That number includes jobs at the park itself and at area suppliers, but doesn’t include thousands of additional indirect jobs also expected by the groups, according to the release. The Ford plant directly employed approximately 1,000 workers when it closed in 2007, down from more than 5,000 at the height of its productivity.

Images courtesy of Ford

24 Comments

Victoria Grandison

I am interested in finding out how to apply for a position of employment for the Ford Wixom Assembly Plant that will be opening up next year for the Solar Panels and Batteries. If you could help me with the process I would greatly appreciate it.

Thomas Bondy

Thomas H. Bondy
133 Sunshine Terrace Scottsboro, AL 35769
(256) 304-2209 Office (256) 478-0425 Cell

Profile
Results-oriented and enthusiastic challenge seeker with a strong work ethic. Effective interpersonal, communication and team-building skills with the ability to build trust and rapport. Excellent problem-solving and organizational skills.

Education
Olivet College, Olivet, Michigan
Bachelor of Arts Degree, May 1992
Major: Business Administration Minor: Insurance

Career Summary
• Production Management • Training & Motivation
• Human Resource Management • Quality Control

Professional Experience:

Heil Environmental, Fort Payne Alabama
Process Manager, Oct. 2009 – present

HYUNDAI MOTOR MANUFACTURING OF ALABAMA, Montgomery, AL
Body Area Manager, Dec. 2003 – October 2009
• Helped design the entire Business Management System based on 16949 principles
• Responsible for complete body shop operations from the ground up
*Supervising equipment installation
*Training hourly team members the skills needed to produce a world-class car
• Supervise two assistant managers, four group leaders, ten engineers and 300 hourly employees
• Performed hands-on metal finish training for all new team members
• Attend daily quality reviews and assign Corrective Action Reports to respective parties
• Developed capable processes which are ergonomically designed for maximum output
• Trained interviewer: Interviewed hundreds of potential hourly/salary team members
• Attended Fanuc Robotics Class, Basic Programming
• Completed a 35 day training camp on Lean Automation in Korea
• Implemented 5S program
• Trained hourly Team Members on Green Belt Six Sigma
• Played key role in TS16949 certification for HMMA, first OEM to achieve this certification
• HMMA was named 10th best plant in North America by J.D. Power in 2006, our first year of production

FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Brownstown Parts Redistribution Center, Brownstown, MI
Sheet metal Superintendent, Jan. 2003 – Jan. 2004
• Increased LPMH (lines per man hour) by 12%
• Created a quality team which improved customer satisfaction by 33%
• Implemented a Kevlar glove program which reduced laceration rate by 86%

Packaging Superintendent, 2002-2003
• Increased LPMH 18% by maximizing production and holding people accountable
• Improved customer satisfaction 40% by reducing rejects and operating better than six sigma standards
• Eliminated six jobs and two classifications to maximize our proficiency and eliminate waste

FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Wixom Assembly Plant, Wixom, MI
Manufacturing Planning Specialist, 1999-2002
• Supervised twelve line foreman and 300 production/maintenance hourly workers
• Coordinated the launch of the new 2000 Town Car
• Responsible for meeting daily production schedules and department budgets
• Worked diligently at meeting quality standards on a daily basis
• Played a key role in the launching of the new Lincoln LS in 1999
• Devised a supervisor task analysis checklist to increase performance and accountability

Production Supervisor, 1993-1999
• Trained and supervised between 20-40 hourly employees, utilizing leadership abilities to maximize production
• Assumed the roles of the General Foreman and Body Area Manager during their absences
• Substituted as an acting MPS and Superintendent from February 1999 to November 2000
• Consistently met production schedules while maintaining quality control standards
• Experience in managing all areas of the Body Shop from manual welding to fit and finish
• Ensured that all safety standards were maintained
• Collaborated with other departments to improve quality control
• Trained new production supervisors
• Successfully retooled fixtures to reduce sheet metal defects as a member of the 1995 Continental Launch Team
• Member of the 1995 Lincoln Continental and 1998 Lincoln Town Car Launch Team
• Trained and certified in ISO9000 and in 14001 environmental standards

Frank Jordan II

I have been unemployed for approximately 7 months. I am currenty looking for employment. I recently found out from wxyz channel 7 news that the old Ford plant will be re-opening as a new energy training center. I lived in the area of walled lake for about 7 years and i’ve worked at Fedex for 12 years and recently was let go..I am eager to start work again and i’m willing to do whatever it takes to do the job. In addition to my experience with Fedex I also have class C cdl license with HAZ.

john pellegrin

I have been out of work for over a year now. I am seriously interested in applying for the job. I live in West Branch right now but my sister is looking for houses for me in the area so that my wife and i could be close to work. I will relocate immediately if the opportunity arises that you would be willing to hire me. Thanks for your time and appreciate the opportunity to be able to serve you in the community if available. Thanks John Pellegrin

Eideard

Ford continues to impress me as the only US-based auto company with the occasional smarts.

Disclaimer – when it looked like a Bottom to me back in November, I bought Ford stock. I bought a few other winners, too; but, I’m not an investment advisor.

But I’m glad I bought the stock. Har!

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