We reported a few months ago that Ford planned to spend $550 million to retool a Michigan SUV plant into a small car plant. Now Ford is at it again, announcing plans to turn the defunct Wixom Assembly Plant in Wixom, MI into a massive renewable energy plant.
Xtreme Power and Clairvoyant Energy have put down an initial investment of over $725 million to turn half of the plant's 320-acre site and 4.7 million square feet of building space into a renewable energy production park. Clairvoyant will produce at least 2.5 million solar panels each year in the space—enough to displace a coal plant—while Xtreme will produce large-scale solar and wind power storage systems. Xtreme and Clairvoyant hope to lease leftover space to other green energy companies.
The retooled plant is a boon to locals, who have been hit hard by the downfall of the auto industry. When the Wixom Assembly Plant shut its doors in 2007, 1,000 employees were left out of work. But the new plant will provide up to 4,000 jobs and a shot of adrenaline to the local economy.
Work on the Wixom plant will begin next year and manufacturing will get started soon after in 2011. Why the short wait from construction to operation? The Wixom plant already has ample building space available, along with rail and electrical power access. In other words, the infrastructure is halfway there.
The Michigan plant is the latest in a series of moves to turn outdated spaces into catalysts for a renewable energy economy. Other recent examples include a supersonic jet runway transformed into a solar array and abandoned phone booths turned into EV charging stations.